Monday, May 25, 2009

psalms in the summer: part one

Years ago I dreaded the summer as a pastor. This is due in part to my tendency to overfocus on work, and not to appreciate what the summer can mean for a family in regard to rest and re-creation. I was trying to build worship attendance and sustain momentum, following Lent and Easter. Summer wreaked havoc with all of that. I dreaded showing up at church on Sunday morning, seeing more empty pews and parking space than usual.

At some point---and this would be the result of some lived experience, and after 27 years of serving in parish ministry---I came to embrace what summer was actually about. For our family, and for me personally, it was and is a time to recover and rest, a time to read and think, a time to pray and plan. Since I have served in larger churches during some of this time (and I have served churches of all sizes, so please do not stereotype what I am saying as being relevant only for "high steeple" congregations), I saw this as a time for the other staff to do the same; our only goals were to stay in communication with each other, as much as possible, and to try to make each Sunday as good as it could possibly be. We really have no control on who is present, and, besides, it is good if our members are themselves getting a change of scenery, slowing down, connecting with their parents or their children in other places. It might even be the work of God.

I have attempted a variety of things over these summers, and this year we are planning to focus on the psalms. Each Sunday will focus on a particular psalm, and these have been chosen in consultation with the pastors, the musicians and the congregation. Six different people will preach this summer---the three pastors, a pastoral counselor who is a part of our church, a seminary professor, and our district superintendent. I will preach eight of the 13 sermons between Pentecost and Labor Day weekend.

However, we realize that many will miss these sermons, and so we are attempting to connect with people by internet, and placing before them a spiritual goal for the summer. We are asking individuals to read the 150 Psalms over the 90 days of summer, and we will be offering a reminder about this discipline (which can be accomplished by reading one in the morning and one in the evening, six days per week) on Twitter. I will say more about this in a day or so; in the meantime you can become a follower by clicking here.

I will complete the thought in a day or two. But I do want to note that this summer spiritual exercise is not about marketing our church; it is about attempting to connect a technology with a season of the year and a portion of scripture that can be life-giving. Please share this possibility with others!


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