Searching for Text

I will be preaching again on Sunday. My colleague is still healing from his recent surgery so I will be back in the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday.  Or Thanksgiving Sunday. Or Friends Sunday, as it is in our congregation this week. I’m having a hard time focusing on what to focus upon in these many themes and possibilities. Usually, it’s not this hard. I don’t need the sermon yet. Not on Monday. On Monday, I simply need to pick a text.

I wrestled with Paul last week so that the reading from Colossians is just exhausting. I’m not really interested in the whole Jesus as King idea that is celebrated in readings that focus our thoughts and energy on the hope of the Christ before we start looking for him again next week. I have lots of metaphors for Christ. I can even include Lord and Savior among those metaphors though that took a lot of soul searching. It’s not language that’s comfortable or familiar to me. I believe that the teachings and example of Jesus are central to who I am. When pushed, I’ll claim those foundational teachings as my foundation — but I don’t really want to be pushed. And so, an entire cycle of readings that focuses us on Jesus as King just causes my eyes to glaze over. It’s not where I find my heart — though this invitation to preach against war-logs intrigues me. I don’t think that’s the most welcoming thing for people that are wandering into experience our church for the first time. It’s the sort of Sunday that a softer message seems needed. 

So, it seems that I’m choosing to think about shepherds. I don’t know any shepherds. I don’t know how to take care of sheep (though we have a staff member at the church who wants nothing more than to take care of sheep). There are some days where I’m not even sure I know how to take care of myself. I like the idea of shepherds. I like that image for God — though in this text, I hear less about God and more urging the people who “scattered God’s flock” to get off their butts and pay attention to the needs of God’s people. That seems like a decent Thanksgiving message as I think about abundance and blessing. In New England, it’s important to remember those pilgrims that bumped into these shores long ago. As the United Church of Christ, it’s even more important because they were Congregationalists. It is part of our story and a part that we must remember. And yet, I’m not as excited about the history of this holiday. Instead, as a good little preacher, I’m wondering about what we might say about God here and now. What is it about God that we understand most in this moment?

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