Monday, May 18, 2009

Bethesda Update #1

Yesterday was my first official day as interim pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in St. Charles. What a privilege it is to be called to shepherd a flock but what an awesome responsibility it is as well. I do pray for the Lord’s wisdom, patience, strength, and blessing in this calling.

I renewed some acquaintances I have made over the past two months as well as met other folks for the first (or second or third!) time. What used to be a steel trap of a memory has quickly diminished in its capability resulting in my rapid forgetfulness of names or, even worse, membership status of some! A pastor always feels very badly when he greets someone as a visitor only to be told they are members! Hopefully, those to whom I directed my incorrect greetings yesterday will be forgiving since, after all, it was my first official Sunday!

I chatted with a few folks during Sunday School and then walked into one of the adult classes for the final 15 minutes or so. This was followed by our morning worship service in which I began an exposition of the book of Colossians, preaching on the first two verses of the book. After the service, we met in the fellowship hall for dinner and cake celebrating the graduation of two members from school plus my arrival as interim. In the evening, one of our deacons taught a lesson from Proverbs but I only made the last forty minutes due to a teaching commitment at Highland View. Afterwards I visited again with some of the people and then moved in several boxes of my library, stacking the books on a couple of the bookshelves in my office.

Overall it was a great day. The people have been so gracious to me and my family. God has placed some very talented and committed believers in this fellowship and I believe He is doing and will continue to do a great work there.

To be perfectly frank, the only disappointment of the entire day was my message. Despite hours of study and prayer, I have preached much better sermons than I did yesterday. For those who have never preached, it is difficult to explain the feeling a preacher has when he feels very prepared and yet the message comes across as flat. Yesterday was one of those days.

While my pastoral experience is somewhat limited, I have learned that Sunday afternoon is usually my most depressing time of the week. I approach most Sunday mornings with great anticipation only to have the air let out of the balloon by the end of the service. Rarely do I preach a message as well as I think I should and a long Sunday afternoon ensues. And, yet, I have also learned another, far more important truth:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

While my sermon did not meet my expectations, I am thankful the Word of God I proclaimed yesterday will accomplish the Lord’s purposes even if I have no idea what those purposes are. Praise God that He is a sovereign God!

1 comment:

Dan said...

What you're describing is pretty typical of any creative act. I feel the exact same way right after teaching Sunday School, recording a podcast episode, or wrapping up some prose. We're our own worst critics.

The good thing here is that you've let perseverance keep you from what Voltaire warned about in regard to the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. Many people (myself included) sometimes get so discouraged by a performance that we don't try again.

And as someone present on that Sunday, I can tell you that you did just fine. Everyone I talked to was quite pleased with the sermon, in both theology and form.

A while back, Ira Glass did a commentary on this subject. While he wasn't addressing the specific creative act of preaching/teaching, the concepts that he brings out might be quite helpful to anyone reading this blog.