Saturday, January 21, 2012

Boundless in 2012

We are often asked to step outside of ourselves for the sake of the Word. God’s love is boundless, and we are asked to push past the artificial boundaries imposed by our culture and community to be an expression of God’s love.  This “Holy Discomfort” is exactly how I started my New Year.

Welcome 2012! The End of the world looms, if you’re Mayan. If you’re not (or at least, not concerned about End Times prophecies a la 1 Thessalonians 5:2), then another year rolls on ahead, full of it’s unique challenges, joys, burdens and blessings. For me personally this is a year when I finish seminary, and creep fearfully into the Big Bad World of Actual Real Life Adults. Not particularly exciting if you ask me. A Ph.D looks more and more appealing the closer to May 15th (the day after graduation) I get. Let me not get ahead of myself too much. Because New Years Day started off with a band (sort of).

Now I had Epic Death Cold the whole week after Christmas. And even went so far as to stay at home of New Years Eve in my pjs drinking tea and watching an NCIS marathon (I’m a winner!). You might say “Brekke, why didn’t you just power through?! Tough it out for one night!” Except that A) I’m really broke and couldn’t justifying spending my hard earned (or loaned-out) money on drinks that I couldn’t taste anyway, and B) I had to get up early on Sunday morning. Why you might ask? Oh, because I accepted an invitation to preach on New Year’s Day, like a good little seminarian. So December 31st, 2011 was spent tweaking a sermon, and trying desperately to get over the Death Cold before I had to preach at 11am the next morning. I am happy to report that God answers prayers and I got over the Death Cold in time to preach (although, I’m still waiting on the mysterious inheritance from a kindly old person to come my way…).

I didn’t just preach anywhere. I preached at a quaint, little community church in Lawerenceville, Georgia to a congregation of mostly over-40 adults (and literally 4 kids) who had the commitment to not just come to church the day after New Year’s, but to come listen to some strange seminarian who isn’t even a member of their denomination. Yep, not even a member of their tradition. Someone outside their boundaries (not that this church seemed to have particularly thick boundaries). Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, part of the ELCA (clearly, since I’m a lady-preacher), welcomed me with open arms and warm smiles when I came to preach. I was “reformed enough” as a Presbyterian, and although I was hopelessly lost during much of the liturgy (thank the Good Lord for the Cantor), my sermon and prayers at this “dry Mass” were kindly received.

Prepping at the Pastor's Desk - all official and stuff
They had me “robe up” – something way beyond my comfort zone. I wore an alb (and felt rather holy and also completely inept at the same time), which is the first time I’ve ever worn liturgical robes in any form or fashion. I felt a bit like a nun instead of a preacher.
I preached on the Holy Name – one of the more obscure selection for the first Sunday after Christmas (my Feasting on the Word commentary didn’t even have it listed!).  And while there were moments that I was scared out of my mind (like the three seconds before I started my sermon), I knew as I opened my mouth that it wasn’t about me and my feelings of inadequacy. It was about the Word of God, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and the redemptive love of Christ.

Children's moment - each name is especially chosen!
It is so easy in this world to forget our chosenness. To forget that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. That God calls us by name.

Jesus' name was specially chosen too - in Hebrew it means "He Saves"
For the first time I saw myself in local parish ministry. I know that it’s not the life-long calling that some people feel, but it is a calling of mine. To preach, to teach, to touch the lives of individuals with the boundless love of God. This is a brand New Year – a year that started off with the Word proclaimed, a year of “Holy Discomfort”, and a year of great change. Hopefully I’ll muddle through, and y’all will be along for the adventure!

That Parament is providential

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