May 17th, 2019
Dear Immanuel Family & Friends,
I want to address an issue that has come to my attention in the last few days concerning my preaching. I have heard some criticism that my preaching is either not as good as it used to be, not spiritual enough, or too academic or intellectual. I think this is an accurate assessment. For whatever reason (burn out, health issues, or just a bad run of preaching), my sermons have been lacking lately, especially on Easter and last Sunday. Concerning Easter, I have to say that after thirty years of Easter sermons I struggle finding something "new" to say, which means that I probably need to go back and see what I've done in years past for some inspiration. Admittedly, I rarely if ever go back and see what I've done in the past, but maybe I should be open to that.
In terms of my sermons not being spiritual enough or too academic, this is a criticism that I have heard on occasion from every congregation I have ever pastored. When I hear this criticism sometimes I have to be able to "dial it back" a little. I just need a reminder from time to time I guess. On the other hand, I hope that even when my sermons seem too dry and intellectual that you, the congregation, can get something out of it. All I can say is that I will try my hardest to produce sermons with more heart and soul.
Another thing that has come to my attention is that there is some confusion about what I'm doing this summer. Admittedly, I sort of "sprung it on you" last Sunday about my summer series titled "Superpower Summer." Let me be clear about what this is. I found a book a few months ago called "Hope and Other Superpowers" by a Christian writer named John Pavlovitz. In this book he uses some of the superhero genre to highlight some of what he calls "Christian powers." Utilizing his book and the scripture lessons for this summer, I have come up with the following preaching schedule of "superpowers" connected to biblical stories:
June 2 - "gratitude" based on Acts 16:16-34
June 9 - "wonder" based on Acts 2:1-21 (Pentecost Sunday)
June 16 - Youth Sunday
June 23 - Pulpit exchange with St. Paul UCC, Old Monroe - their preacher will be speaking here that morning
June 30 - "sacrifice" based on 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 and Luke 9:51-62
July 7 - "humor" based on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 and 2 Kings 5:1-14
July 14 - "kindness" based on Luke 10:25-37
July 21 - vacation
July 28 - "persistence" based on Luke 11:1-13
August 4 - "creativity" based on Colossians 3:1-11
August 11 - "courage" based on Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 and Luke 12:32-40
August 18 - "honesty" based on Luke 12:49-56
August 25 - "compassion" - based on Luke 13:10-17
As you can see, these are thoroughly biblical sermons with references to mainly biblical superheroes and exclusively biblical superpowers.
The other thing that I heard is that some of you are under the impression that I am requiring everyone to wear superhero costumes or tee-shirts or that I might be wearing a cape on Sunday morning. Nope! This is mainly for the children and young at heart who might want to do something like that just to go along with the superpower theme of the summer. There will be nothing that is irreverent or disrespectful in worship.
If you have any questions about anything I have written, please don't hesitate to contact me about it. I'm looking forward to this Sunday and all future Sundays with my church flock!