I took a different approach to the Gospel reading in my sermon on Sunday. I was inspired by two other people who are named and linked in my previous posting of that sermon. One of my friends commented on the blog posting that she could not hear the third servant as someone who was courageous. I know what she means. And yet, every time I read the passage I could hear the courage it took for that third person in the parable tell the manager that he was corrupt. I heard the courage in light of my own efforts to be a truth teller, and the subsequent reactions of people who made me the problem instead of the problem being the problem. And then, when I preached this sermon, I heard the third servant, or slave, as the text had it, in light of the people in congregation who are of color - some born and raised here, some from other parts of the world. I found myself adding more, speaking about how problematic the word "Slave" is and how even the text itself is a source of pain for some who hear it.
I found myself thinking about someone who recently shared with me their pain over being called the "N" word. And the people I am aware of who are victims of child sexual abuse, or domestic violence, those who have been caught up in the violence of war and tortured....and those who have suffered other forms of abuse I don't yet know of.
People of all ages who heard this sermon yesterday told me how much it spoke to them, and how much they appreciated hearing it. The notion that one can be both fearful, fear-filled, and try to hide, while at the same time summoning up just enough courage to speak the truth, is clearly something the people in my congregation understand.
It was a reminder to me that we have to trust our gut when preparing a sermon. Trust where the Spirit is leading us, even when She is taking us down an uncertain path and a new understanding of the text. I am grateful for others who wrestled with the text and pushed the envelope and helped me see it in light of the events in the world today as well those in the lives of the people who come to this church.
Today is a day off. I am listening to Bach Adagios, drinking coffee, and thinking about the chores I want to accomplish today. Little things, sweeping and vacuuming, laundry, and sanding some furniture so I can paint it.
But mostly I am just trying to rest. We have a busy week ahead as we prepare for our Evensong and Michigan Alternative Holiday Market - we have over twenty vendors coming next Sunday night - to sell their arts and crafts, cheese, and vegetables, and gift baskets. We are encouraging everyone to come and do their Christmas shopping before Advent begins, to support local people, and some international efforts like, Creating Hope International, who assists women and girls acquire an education in places like Afghanistan. We will have the opportunity to buy some handmade work by Afghan women. Included in this event will be musical offerings by the various musicians affiliated with the parish, and food. I hope it proves to be a great venture!
Taking risks for the Gospel. Speaking up, stepping out, trying new things, seeking to live life fully. That's what I'm thinking about this week. And ever so grateful to be exactly where I am. God is good.
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