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My Preaching Years

231. My Preaching Years

I feel so lucky to have been able to preach for the years I did (and sometimes still do). It came about when I was the music director at a small American Baptist Church in Nyack, New York and they fired their minister (as American Baptists can do). They had in the congregation, a person who had been attending for a period of time, who was working for the New York Board of Health, but was also an ordained American Baptist preacher. His name was Jim and this Nyack church asked him if he would be the preacher. He said “I will, all but one Sunday a month.” Then they turned to me and said, “Would you be the preacher on that Sunday that Jim has off?” I said, “Sure.” I had already preached for them one Sunday in 1990 and one Sunday in 1991, so they knew I was could do it. So from 1992 to 1995 I preached once a month. Then Jim had to resign because of his health and I preached weekly from June of 1995 to June of 1998.

By then I was in the United Methodist process for ordination and in June of 1998 was appointed to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Nyack as co-pastor and as a local pastor (which means that I wasn’t ordained yet). And actually I never was ordained because I served in Nyack for two years and then retired at the age of 67.

My daughter-in-law Lila told me the story of early in my preaching time. She said, “You know the other day I said to David: Where did your mother learn to preach? She’s just been doing it a short time.” David said, “She’s been preaching all her life.” Lila said, “No David, she’s just been preaching three or four years.” David said, “No Lila, she’s been preaching a very long time, as long as I can remember.”

Maybe so—but here’s what I love about having had that eight years of preaching and a taste of ministry. I loved the wrestling with scripture. I had had it before when I wrote curriculum for various denominations but now this was for adults and now this was for me. What in the world do I say about this scripture? What in the world does it mean?

And I read and I struggled and by Sunday I would have figured it out. I searched for stories that would compliment and help. I searched for quotes and for poetry, but mostly I searched for meaning—what does this mean—what do I say? I learned it’s not easy but at the same time it is rewarding. Because I usually read twice or three times as much as I needed and so I was the richer.

Now I’m a lay person again and I’m a lay person who knows that it’s both a challenge and a privilege to preach. And every once in a while when in a Bible study or in some reading, I come across a really difficult passage I still say to myself, “Hmmm…How would I preach this?”

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