Worship on the Fourth of July

I'm working on a sermon, so I'm not going to take the time to write a full post on this fascinating subject. But I would like to solicit your prayers for all pastors and preachers who are preparing for worship tomorrow, especially those who are new to their congregations (which apparently applies to hundreds of Methodist pastors around the country).


It can be very hard to get the balance right between pastoral sensitivity and prophetic proclamation, between expressing appropriate gratitude for the blessings of our society and avoiding the idolatry of blind patriotic boosterism. It's even harder if you don't have an established relationship with the congregation you're addressing.

You can pray for me, too, if you like. My assigned text is Obadiah, which, it turns out, is one of the most rabidly nationalistic texts in the Old Testament. Somehow I've got to find a way to preach that on the Fourth of July, while also connecting it with the communion table (first Sunday of the month, after all) and making it "family friendly," because we don't have a separate children's program during the summer, so everyone over the age of four is going to be in big church.

(To my surprise and delight, I've actually got a preliminary outline that manages to cover most, if not all, of these bases, without straying too far from my set text. This is what I love about preaching -- it forces you to spend enough time with the text that the things you would never notice otherwise finally emerge. Sermon writing is much less about creation than about discovery.)

Anyway. Some pieces I've come across in the last few days about ministering effectively on this national holiday:
Back to the sermon prep. Happy 4th of July, everyone.

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