This past Sunday was the first time that I led the service at our new church home. Pastor Mike took a much-earned day off, and our other Associate pastor was gone for the weekend, so I was entrusted with the Sunday morning gathering. Other than leaving out the greeting time at the beginning of the service and forgetting to invite the children to Children’s Church midway through the service, things seemed to go well.
I preached a little too long, as well, which has less ramifications now that we are on our summer schedule of only one service. I think I have done a pretty good job of adjusting from the almost-hour-long sermons in L.A. to the much shorter format here, but it seems I still need to pay close attention to how much material I plan to share.
We are preaching through the book of Isaiah right now, and I was given the second chapter to preach from this past week. Isaiah two is actually the text I preached my very first sermon from in a little house church back in Chicago. I can remember sitting in a stuffy apartment with a small gathering of folks form the neighborhood with my Bible open on my lap. There were no microphones or stage and and while I remember feeling a bit nervous, I can also remember that it felt right to open the scriptures and speak about them to people that I loved.
That first sermon emphasized the beginning of Isaiah two: visions of plowshares replacing swords and all nations gathering together in one reconciled place. That word was especially significant for a community that knew a great deal about violence and was made up of people from all over the world. This pas Sunday, I preached the second part of the chapter that speaks to the fullness of the people of God: a fullness of power, wealth, and idols. And it offers a sober vision of every high and lofty thing being brought low, and every idol being cast aside at the end. It raises the question of where our allegiance is at present and where the paths we are taking now ultimately lead. It challenges us to consider what we truly worship. As a community that has so recently come face to face with the the fact that this life ends, this was a good word for us.