Of Summer Pulpit Supply

Last sunday, I served as pulpit supply at the invitation of a seminary friend. “They like to end no later then 11 a.m.,” he told me. He wasn’t kidding. The Worship Elder kept checking his watch rather visibly during the sermon and the prayers of the people. We were out by 11:05 to be sure.

It’s another small church where everyone knows everyone else and has for thirty or forty decades by now. – which means that joys and concerns is probably the most important part of the service. Some churches are like the theme song from the TV show Cheers – “where everyone knows my name” – and the news of our lives both big and small are heard and held within friendships that have lasted longer then all too many marriages and that is not such a bad thing. It can be hard to bring new people into that family however but that’s another day’s posting.

It was also warming up in the non-air conditioned sanctuary. I could feel the sweat dribbling down my back. I’m not sure I would preach in the ordinary, traditional way if I were not a stranger in that congregation. I found myself wanting to present the gospel, some background information, and then engaging in conversation among the pews. I wonder if they would have tuned in better to the scripture if they could have put it into their own voices and lives. But I was pulpit supply, the hit & run preacher. I did not know know them until 9:30 a.m. when I walked in the door. They are a warm and good people, and I am glad I was given the opportunity to come among them but there remains these questions I have about the text…