Welcome Friends!

Welcome Friends!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Worship for a Community in Crisis

This Sunday, June 22 -- the community of Ursa, Illinois will be have a community Park Festival. A weekend event celebrating our Village of Ursa and several of the community organizations. There will be ball games, a car show, games for kids, baby contests and lots of good food. The Firemen are holding a fish fry, the Lions a pork chop dinner, and on Sunday the only other church in the town besides my Disciple church --(Zion United Church of Christ) will be having a ham dinner after our community worship. I have been asked to lead and plan that service and give the sermon for the day. We will be gathering underneath a big tent in the middle of our beautiful town park to worship and praise God.

Sounds like a wonderful and fun town event, doesn't it? Something to really bring our community together? And it will be, except for one big thing that is looming over us -- or as I should put it, rolling due West of the town of Ursa -- the Mighty Mississippi River and the Flood of 2008! As many of you have heard in the daily news throughout the country, the Mississippi River is at the high flood stages of 1993 when there was much distruction and disaster. This time the flood waters are still at bay in some places, however there has been a breach in the levee just across from Canton, MO and Culver-Stockton College on the Illinois side in the little town of Meyer. Homes have been long evacuated and personal belongings moved out -- but there a few homes that are now sitting full of flood waters. I myself have been down sandbagging when I haven't been tending to the Ursa flock.

As I think about all of the activities in this past week and as I look to prepare a sermon for the community worship service, I am going to leave you with some questions that I am facing this day?
  • How do you preach hope and celebrate community, when faced with impending disaster at your door step?

  • What rutual could you have in worship to help remind people that God is not punishing us with flood waters?

  • Why should you even have worship -- shouldn't you just tell people to head down to make sandbags and we will worship later when the crisis is over?
I look forward to hearing from you and your thoughts concerning this community in crisis. Please pray for the communities along the Mississippi River and the Midwest that are dealing with these same questions this day.

God Bless -- Linda

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Preaching Series

Well it is summer time! After all of the busy things we do in the month of may (Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Graduations), how many of you do something different for worship and/or preaching during your summertime worship? Do you struggle with low attendance and try something different to keep the interest going in those hot hazy days?

I started to preach a sermon series a few years ago when I preached one Sunday during Easter time and got an idea. Our church in Ursa, IL is fortunate to have some beautiful stained glass windows, and I used one for a sermon illustration. When I started to really look at our windows, I realized there was an even amount of First and Second Testament scripture stories represented -- and enough windows to go through the three months of the summer (without counting 4th of July and my vacation Sunday). Everyone in the church enjoyed the series because it brought out some familiar stories that we don't always hear in church and it gave them an opportunity to appreciate the windows that are always present, but sometimes overlooked.

This summer's sermon series is starting to come together -- a series on "Psalms and Prayers". Living with the Psalms and some familiar prayers that we all may need to know. I am teaching the congregation to use the Lectio Divina method of living with scriptures. The first Sunday I started with Thanksgiving psalms and I gave them 5 different scriptures on a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper (each scripture in a text box on the page). And I encouraged them to cut out one of the texts and put it somewhere where they could read it a couple times a day -- on their bathroom mirror, by the nightstand, etc. We will go through several weeks of topics -- the idea came from reading Marti Steussy's Chalice Commentary for Today: Psalms for the topic ideas.

So what are you going to do this summer? Continue to preach what ever crosses your mind? Continue to preach the lectionary? Or create a sermon series that may inspire not only your congregation, but also may pick you up during the summer slump!