Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pulpit in the Sky with Diamonds

Way too many things as usual in our world. I now know where I will be for my internship year- a church whose official name is- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of The Holy Trinity, more commonly just called "Trinity, Lancaster." For a full view of my internship world click here. There are many exciting and challenging things to consider and I am eager to begin, albeit a little nervous.
The pastors and staff have been a joy to meet. It is exhilirating to know that though the congregation has never had an intern, they are "thrilled" to have me there. And in my interaction with the various staff and volunteers, the excitement is indeed palpable. Having now had the tour of the sanctuary and the separate parish building, I am sure I will get lost a least once a day for awhile.
But I also believe that everyone there will simply smile and help me get oriented... again. The work of the church is extensive both locally and globally. There is much to see and to learn.

The church has been around since the early 1700's, and a Muhlenberg is involved, so truly there is a cloud of witnesses. There is actually a letter to the "pastor of the congregation" from Muhlenberg which is shared with each new pastor. The picture above depicts the view from the organ in the balcony to the pulpit which, when one stands in it, is almost level with the balcony. Behind the pulpit is a 16 foot mural of the Resurrected Christ. The congregation is used to a 25 minute sermon and the congregation library holds 3600 books which are theological- in other words, there is not a " DaVinci Code" in sight.
And as I stood in this pulpit, knowing the first date I will preach as the first vicar, gazing at the massive Bible in the pulpit, looking at the windows, one of which is by Louis Comfort Tiffany, I wonder- what does the cloud of witnesses think? Will the 16 foot Jesus come alive during my sermon and step down to say,"That's not what I meant!" when I am preaching?
So I think of the words I shared with a potential commuter student just a couple weeks ago. She asked, " How will I make this all happen?" I encouraged her to ponder instead, " How will God work through me to bring me to this new place?"
With a little creative license from the medical profession, perhaps I need to hear-
"Preacher, hear thyself!"

While I sort that out I confess to singing the old Beatles song with a new twist...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

God's Grammar

In this Lenten season, I have been using the Book of Faith Lenten Journey
which encompasses meditation on the words of the Lord's Prayer. Though I have enjoyed each day, perhaps the meditation that has stuck with me most is the exercise of contemplating the pronouns of the Lord's Prayer, God's grammar. What does it mean to say that God is "our" Father in this prayer? What does it mean to ask for "our" daily bread? What is the weight of seeking forgiveness for "our" sins? The words "I","me" and "my" have no place in this prayer, the prayer Jesus gives in answer to the question of how we should pray. Does this change how you see others,to remind yourself again that God is not picking and choosing as we do? Might the notion that we ask for all to have daily bread, inform our choices, our advocacy, and our idea of what is "enough"? How does it feel to ask God to forgive OUR sins,not just "my sins."? There is no "us versus them" in this equation. The other pronoun I have pondered is "your." God, we hallow, your name. What is not there? Holding up ourselves as holy and worthy. Your kingdom come, your will be done. For this to be meaningful prayer, it means we are affirming that God's arrangement of the world is right and should exist and that we pray for it to be so. If that arrangement means that all have a place in the circle, and that all are truly interdependent, can we think more deeply about how we see others? And about the role of our will? Yours is the kingdom and power and glory. Not ours. Not mine. It is hard sometimes to acknowledge that God's kingdom is not always the kingdom that we desire- it does not square with our wants, our preferences, our fears.God hears all our prayers, the prayers of all of us, not just some. And one final thought- if we really mean it when we pray this prayer, how are we called to be workers for this kingdom where all have their daily bread, where all have God as Father, where all seek forgiveness and a place in the kingdom?
Lord, you answered us when we asked you to teach us how to pray. We ask you to teach us how to live what we pray. Amen.