Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why do I preach?

 “Krista, you have a gift.  You should consider ministry as a vocation.” “You know KP you used your gifts today and you should think about the possibility of seminary after Hanover.” “Aren’t you under care of your Presbytery yet?” “Your pulpit presence is better than mine and I’ve been a pastor for years.”

                These are affirmations I heard and pushed aside many times before I decided to stop and listen to what they were saying. The first sermon I preached was youth Sunday during my senior year of high school, and I did it because no one else in the youth group would.  Well, and because all volunteered me to do it. I thought folks were just being nice by saying all of these things, and they were, but there was truth to what they were saying.

                When I did stop and take an entire summer as an intern here in Louisville at the church I grew up in, I found just how true those words were.  I found myself looking forward to Sunday’s where I got to help write the liturgy.  I loved interacting with folks in nursing homes and hospital rooms who were so happy someone had come to visit.  I experienced what it was like to participate in a funeral service and interact with a grieving family.  And then, I got to preach. 

                I have always loved scripture.  I don’t mean that in a ohhh look it’s the Bible I love it kind of way, but scripture has been and I pray it always will be for me a place that I go when  I am down and out and need a pick me up as well as when things are going perfect.  When parents are fighting, when tournaments were won, when friends abandoned me, when nieces were born, when loved ones passed, and when a friend needed help; I turned and continue to turn to scripture.  There were times I would run to my room and shut the door, face full of tears crying out for things to be different for violence to end, for peace in my house, for the sick to be well, for life to be different. And in these heartfelt moments of crying out I would crawl in bed and open my Bible and begin to read familiar texts in a new way. Brothers and parents would open the door and see me sitting there reading my Bible and they would quietly leave, I often felt in another world, I had found my peace.

                When the time came for me to preach during my internship I was excited.  As the sermon process was underway I truly felt as if it were an act of worship.  Spending time digging into the word of God and reading commentaries opened my heart and my mind to what God was doing and saying.  And when I stepped in that pulpit the final Sunday of my internship I was overwhelmed, I was overwhelmed because God was using me to deliver a message to God’s people and that was something far greater than anything I could do on my own.  And now, I love preaching almost as much as I love scripture.  I love spending time wrestling with a text, listening to the text, and being open to the Holy Spirit while learning along the way.

Each time that I preach I am just as nervous as the day that I first preached, but each time I am fully aware that God is at work in me, around me, and through me, bringing a message to God’s people that is not my own.  And so I stand before you today and like Paul, I do not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decide to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I come to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation are not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

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