My Two Cents
August 11, 2019, 12:00 AM

Back in June our Christian Temple Pastoral Relations Committee distributed a survey designed to give our congregation an opportunity to share their thoughts about the weekly sermon. The Pastoral Relations Committee is a group of six  people who meet throughout the year to provide support to the minister and to offer a conduit for communication between the pastor and the congregation. Our meetings are typically informal opportunities to check in with each other. But occasionally I have asked this group to gather information from the congregation in a more formal way. Thus the survey.


We had a nice response to the survey which indicated to me first that the sermon, while often maligned as a form of communication, is an important part of our worship service. For many of us the sermon is our only opportunity to reflect on that mysterious and sometimes unapproachable book we call the Bible. The sermon also offers us a chance to consider what we believe about God and Jesus, in the context of what is actually happening in the world around us. And, maybe  as important as anything, the sermon allows us to see the world- and our faith tradition- from another person's perspective, and decide what we think about the words we hear.


The specific feedback from the surveys was very interesting. It's clear that we have a hunger for learning about Jesus- what he did, the stories he told, and the lessons he taught. Some of us are very curious about the Old Testament- the Hebrew scriptures- especially those passages which are filled with violence and the image of a violent God. More than one person shared an interest in hearing more about the book of Revelation. A few of us mentioned an interest in hearing about what the three Abrahamic faith traditions have in common. And several are interested in hearing calls to offer justice, mercy and compassion in ways that transcend the political divisions.


Many of us used this survey to make very specific suggestions. Some of the topics that came up were mental illness and addiction, communication between marriage partners and exploring the particular meanings and translations of the words we find in scripture. These topics are all fascinating and probably just scratch the surface of things we'd like to hear explored during this part of our corporate worship.


Which reminds me, please consider this survey only the beginning of what might be an ongoing conversation designed to make the sermon as relevant and challenging and helpful as possible. Each Sunday I begin the sermon with a short prayer more for myself than anyone else, that goes: "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable to you, O God, our rock and our redeemer." Please know that as I select the "words of my mouth" I'm always very curious about "the meditations of your hearts" and how both of those things might please our God, who is our rock and our redeemer!


Welcome to worship!