Monday, February 2, 2015

Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column & Lenten Sermon Series

February 2015: "Unassigned Seating"

Dear Church,

It has been a long winter already--and a cold one, at that, especially when our old, lumbering heater of many decades in the fellowship hall began to sputter and start this winter. The board has approved a bid for a new heating system for the fellowship hall, and it is scheduled to be installed this month. I am excited for this new, energy-efficient setup that will be good for both the earth and for our congregation's bottom line...less money spent on heating, after all, is more money that can be spent on building the kingdom and proclaiming the Gospel instead. 

Throughout our winter of inconsistent heating, we took a few Sundays where we met for fellowship time not in the hall, but throughout our classrooms in the main building. This necessitated a number of on-the-spot improvisations: moving serving tables around, taking chairs from one room to another, and the like.

But perhaps the impromptu change that I enjoyed the most was seeing everyone sitting at completely different tables during fellowship time by necessity, because the usual places we might take and sit down at every Sunday were not available. I saw lots of great conversations taking place despite this musical chairs treatment of our seating--or, rather, perhaps because of that musical chairs feeling. 

See, we often joke about having assigned pews that we sit in every Sunday, but that joke is funny because there is a germ of truth to it, and I think it extends over not just into worship but into fellowship time and the tables and chairs we take our places at then as well. The overall effect, then, is something akin to a high school cafeteria where the jocks have their table, and the computer techies have their table, and the band nerds (that'd be me) have their table.

That's high school, though. Not church. It shouldn't be church.

So it may sound trivial, but at heart, I do not think it is: when our new heaters are installed this month, let's try to take the lesson of having to change up our usual seating arrangements to heart and continue setting next to people we might not have normally sat next to before this winter.

Let's make a conscious and deliberate effort to reach out to ALL of our brothers and sisters in the church to get to know them better. ALL of you have some amazing stories to tell--I know this because you have shared them with me.

Now, I want you to be able to share them with everyone else as well.

And if nothing else, to return to the high school metaphor, think of it as switching up your assigned desks in the classroom to mess with your substitute teacher. Only instead of a subsitute teacher, you have me.

Hey, I never said it was a perfect metaphor!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

This Lent, we kick off (as always) with an Ash Wednesday (kick ash, see what I did there?!) service where I'll preach on that story of Jesus in the wilderness, and then we will begin a new sermon series just for Lent, one which recounts each day of Holy Week, one by one, culminating in Good Friday. The basis of this series is the book "The Last Week" by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, the latter of whom just passed away on January 21st. But this sermon series was much longer n the making, and I am excited to begin it with you on the 22nd!

February 22: “Monday,” Mark 11:12-19
March 1: “Tuesday,” Mark 12:35-44
March 8: “Wednesday,” Mark 14:1-9
March 15: "Thursday," Mark 14:12-25
March 22: "Friday," Mark 15:22-38 
March 29: "Palm Sunday," Mark 1:1-11
April 2: Maundy Thursday service, 7:00 pm

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