Post-Labor Day Labor

It's a short week this week thanks to yesterday's holiday. What makes the week even shorter is not having to preach on Sunday. Usually, despite them being my 'days off,' you'll still find me at the church on Friday and Saturday fine-tuning my sermon. This week and next week are both a little different. This week we host a neutral pulpit for a fellow UCC congregation. Next week is Youth Sunday, with recent graduates sharing sermon duties.

What does a pastor do with all his free time? He schedules a bunch of extra visits. He even gets ambitious and starts thinking about his September 25 sermon and beyond. He might even start planning Advent (maybe that's too ambitious). He attends a few Association-sponsored events like installations and open houses for the new Association Minister-Nominate.

I attended such an installation this past Sunday at one of our closest neighbors. A younger pastor with a United Methodist background was installed in the next town over. I figured that it would be helpful to support a new colleague so close by. The service was very 'high church,' with parts of the liturgy sung and more formal Shakespearean English used in communion. The pastor has a rich music background, and it has been my experience that pastors with rich music backgrounds tend toward a more formal style of worship a la Catholic, Anglican, or Lutheran. They are appreciators of the music and it translates to their own settings. They were trained in sacred music, so it's to be expected. My music background consists of playing drums really loud in my basement and teaching myself acoustic guitar. We don't sing the Kyrie that often.

I got an assist from Volf in my sermon on Sunday. I talked about the crisis in New Orleans and how we shouldn't be so quick to explain that it happened because of sin. Volf speaks of God giving of the divine self and seeking not to abandon the godless but to embrace them and transform them. Transform is my word, but it still worked.

It is said that every pastor has three or four sermons that they just rotate and preach in different ways. This past Sunday was a variation on 'life sucks, but God is with us somehow.' My wife hates that one. She says I get too depressing. I haven't figured out how to lighten the mood for that one yet.

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