Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sermons and preaching

This is the sanctuary of my church. It happens to be a United Church of Christ, which might seem a bit odd, because I'm a Hellenic polytheist and not much into Christianity. However...

When I looked for a church, I was looking for somewhere that shared my beliefs on the spiritual (though not necessarily religious) end of the spectrum. I was searching for a community of like-minded and open-minded individuals. I wanted a spiritual home that both challenged me and supported me. I hoped that it would be a place that sis and I could worship and work together in, which is not so easy. I also wanted it to be a place that shared my ideals for helping others, both in and out of the country I live in. This church met ALL those criteria. It surprised me. A lot.

A lot of it has to do with that lady in the picture up there, Rev. Alison. We joke about each being "the other Rev. Allyson/Rev.Alison" and everyone at church thinks it's a giggle. She and I share some remarkable background (abusive mother, alcoholism, struggling with learning the hard way, etc), and I feel very much that she is an excellent spiritual mentor.

She is the definition of "minister as a verb" which is a pet peeve of mine. She works her butt off for the community in this area, and her efforts are seen all around, not just in the church building. I appreciate and applaud her efforts!

One of the things I just did was to cover for her while she was away at a family reunion. I stepped up to the lectern, and I preached. I've done it before, although never from an actual lectern - the Unitarian Universalist church I used to attend was much less formal, with fold up chairs and such. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. I'm also very pleased at how well the sermon went.

If you're interested in reading the sermon, you can find it here, on my website. I was heartened by the number of people who approached me after the service, to tell me that they felt that my message had been specifically for them. That was a good feeling, the feeling that I had reached people, and made their lives just a little bit easier.

This sermon was just a little part of the decision that I've recently made. I'm going to seminary. This isn't a Christian seminary, though. It's called The New Seminary, and it's an interfaith ministry, designed to meet the needs of interfaith communities. I will be attending the open house on August 12th, and at that time I hope to be accepted into the September program. I can't properly voice how excited I am.

I have felt called to this kind of teaching and leading for many years, and it's been difficult to explain to the pagan friends, because we don't really have "a church" at which we preach. I think I am finding a comfortable place in helping out other ministers and pastors, though. Perhaps one day I'll work at a church, or then again, maybe not. At the moment, the most important thing to me is to follow my heart, and my head, and get my formal ministerial training to match my "paper mill" ordination. It'll be nice to have documents that reflect the 20 years I have put into ministry!
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