Monday, June 29, 2009

Talitha cumi!

(A bit of a round-about entry, but… if you can stick with me, I think it’s worth it.)

The pastor of my church, Pastor Jim, is currently in the middle of his 3-month sabbatical. As a result, we have two guest pastors presiding over the flock, as it were. Pastor Kirk, a kindly man from the St. Louis area who teaches and researches at Wash. U., is filling in during June and August. Pastor Sarah, a very young recent graduate from Eden’s Seminary, is filling in during the month of July.

Since I’ve been attending Grace UCC, our track record with guest pastors has mostly been miss or miss. I can’t exactly pinpoint one or two things that have left me less-than-satisfied during Pastor Jim’s absences. I don’t believe it to be a resistance to change as I’m a fairly open guy. I don’t think it has to do with sermon topics, either. That would mean we only have guest pastors when it coincides with an unpopular sermon… hey, wait a second…

(Just kidding, Pastor Jim.)

After four weeks, I must say… Whatever it is the other people were missing, Pastor Kirk has it! His sermons to date have been poignant, succinct, and entertaining. These are all key characteristics of a sermon that keeps the congregation interested and attentive.

From the first minute he stood in front of us, it was obvious he didn’t want to just fill in for a few weeks and move on. He has taken the time to try and learn as many names as possible; he spends as much time as it takes to visit with the congregation before, between, and after services; he steps down from the podium and off the dais to speak to us at our level; and he always finds some way of making the sermon very personal to each of us.

He ends each sermon with a plan of action – something for us to ponder or question in our own lives or, as was the case yesterday, something for us to actually do.

The Bible passage read and discussed this past Sunday concerned some of the miracles of Jesus. It was Mark 5:35-43 – Jesus’ healing of Jarius’ daughter. It is a great passage for the message of healing and faith and one which easily sticks with me. It ends with Jesus taking the girl’s hand and saying, "Talitha cumi"; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

Or, as Pastor Kirk put it, “Get up! Get up and live!

Get up. Get up and live.

Six simple words (four, really, as two of them are duplicates) that have so much power in them! And after the recent losses in our entertainment industry, the message seems to ring louder and even more clearly in my ears. Get up and do something, because you have such a limited time on this world as we know it.

“Get off your arse, Ethan!”

After church, Dana and I did our usual shopping (that always seems to go on for way too long). And when we finally got home, I got up. I got up and mowed the lawn. When I was done mowing the lawn, I sat down for a minute to drink a few glasses of water. And then I got up and headed to the basement. I finished a small section of drywall inside the new workshop, cut open a bag of insulation, and started filling in voids and wall spaces. Two bags later, with all of the insulation in place, I started hanging drywall. I didn’t get very far, however, because Dana called me up for supper.

After mowing and hanging drywall and insulation, I had to shower and change clothes before I could sit down anywhere. After a shower and some supper, I got up and logged onto the computer and worked on my current editing assignment for the American City Business Journals.

I didn't get to bed until 11:45 last night. I was tired and sore and still slightly itchy from the insulation. I even managed to impress my wife with the speed at which I fell asleep (I cut my time down from 15 seconds to about 8 or 9). I slept more peacefully and soundly than I have in a long time.

And when I opened my eyes this morning, the first thought I had was, “Get up. Get up and live!” That’s how I want to try and start each day.

But not only that, it is how I want to start treating my time after 5:00 p.m. each day. I feel like I'm wasting half my life because I never seem to get anything done when I get home from work.

I feel change in the air, though...

And so I say unto you, my fellow woodworkers and blog readers...

Get up! Get up and live!


mdx3mom said...

It is refreshing to hear someone actually get something from a sermon. I have always said that it is the leader, minsiter, priest, etc that makes a church. If they are not "good" church will not be good. The main reason I do not go to church anymore is I lost a minister (to a change in address) at a church I did attend and really did not care for the man that took his place. I have since tried out other churches (denomination means nothing to me) I just do not care to be "preached down to". I want that "fire" to be lit when I hear a sermon.

I am glad to hear that Minister Kirk "lit a fire" in you, that is what they are supposed to do. Maybe now your spirits will lift a bit as you have sounded a bit down recently.

Ethan said...

You're always more than welcome to join us, MD. We go to the first service because it is the traditional one. You shouldn't have any problems making at 8:45 service, though...