Thursday, August 23, 2007
I am trying to write a decidedly Lutheran sermon today for my new parish. I have been preaching the past few weeks in an Episcopal church and I spent yesterday at a very tenuous Episcopal clergy meeting, but now I must change gears. I must put away the breezy way I relate to Episcopalians and find ways to proclaim the gospel to those who hear the Gospel in the light of Luther. I never would have thought that there would so much difference. In fact, I am not sure that there is that much difference. My sermons at St. Luke’s have always been well received.
I have been corresponding with another Episcopal priest who did some of her training in a Lutheran church. She also acknowledged that there was not so much difference except that she felt uncomfortable. I wonder if that is what I am experiencing—discomfort rather than real difference. I do know that I feel right at home in the pulpit at St. Luke’s. The liturgy is becoming a bit more comfortable. Then what is it that makes me feel peculiar and inexperienced doing what I have done for the past 25 years?
Is it an overwhelming desire to succeed? No, I don’t think that is totally it. But I do know that there is some ego involved. Although the Episcopal Church is open and very broad about it acceptance of ideas, Lutherans seem to be much more “gathered” or “collected” in their theology. I think one of my drawbacks is being a bit more self-conscious about my theological task in the sermon. “Does my sermon address confessional issues for Lutherans?” is a question that I have to address for Lutherans that I do not have to do as an Episcopalian. It seems somewhat artificial at present, but it is a way I can guarantee to touch the Lutheran soul.
Meanwhile, I need to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church, both Lutheran and Episcopal. I need to not let the heaviness of the conflict in the Episcopal Church to rain on the parade of the Lutherans. Perhaps this is the hardest chore of all.