As I take a moment for this newsletter article/blog post, we are in the middle of our sermon series on our Methodist history and tradition. If you are a part of this congregation and have not been able to join worship during this season, I invite you to find these sermons and give them a listen. You will hear about the Wesley’s early home life and challenges, early education, the formation of the first Methodist group, failure and inspiration, and even John Wesley’s determination to “be more vile.” It is my hope that you might find them both instructive and inspiring.
My point in this is that the series is taking place over a twelve-week period. It is nearly three months long. It started just after Independence Day and it continues through Labor Day to the last weekend in September.
This takes planning. And I’m not a planner. I’m a firm advocate that the best way to make God laugh is to tell God your plans.
But let me quantify. It’s not like I never make plans. I just don’t very often make detailed plans. Details are hard for me. Figuring out the details is something that takes me quite a bit of time. It’s not my strength. So to plan a twelve-week sermon series with titles and themes and scriptures and imagery ideas and visual aids and hymn suggestions… That’s hard for me.
And it was also wonderfully freeing.
I’ve taken to this new level of sermon planning – although let’s be honest, I don’t want to get ahead of myself by planning everything else – by creating a sermon calendar. So far I have sermons roughed in for the rest of this year and the first half of next year.
And it is wonderfully freeing.
One of the things I think I was afraid of when it came to this kind of planning was the possibility of being constrained and inflexible. Perhaps this is a real fear for many of us. And we live in a time when sometimes our culture demands that we be ultra-flexible – often we use the word “spontaneous.” But spontaneous doesn’t necessarily mean unprepared.
And so I have felt this kind of planning to be helpful rather than constricting. I have found that planning gives me guidance and support and still leaves room for creativity. And when I need to throw out an idea entirely and consider a new direction, that’s great. I change the plan. Because that’s ok too.
I know many of you are detailed planners in ways that I could never be. And many of you are not. Great! It is my hope that we can all see the value of some level of planning, even while leaving room for flexibility. I think it is a helpful and freeing thing. I hope you will too.
And so now I am left with the next logical question: what should I plan next? I have some ideas, and I hope you do too. And I hope you include your faith community in your plans!
We have some exciting things coming in these next weeks and months. While it’s been off the radar for a bit, we are still moving on the Labor of Love project. We have an upgrade coming to Hughes Hall to provide both for multimedia capability and also for a bit of environmental relief. We have our annual Stewardship campaign in October. We have upcoming Christmas musicals from our talented members and choir as well as from our amazing children. Our GriefShare group has begun meeting again. We have our annual Charge Conference in November. We are working to schedule our next Youth Sunday before the end of the year. We have service opportunities like Project Grace (our weekly meal on Wednesday evenings) and the Storefront Teen Shelter. We will worship together, celebrate together, work together, pledge together, pray together, learn together, make music together, be challenged and strengthened together, and – I hope – we will grow in love together.
Dear friends, I invite you to join me in making plans.