I was ordained last February, and since then I’ve been invited to preach at more than a dozen churches as a supply preacher. It’s always an adventure to pack up my minister’s gown and stole and drive to a new church. Last summer I found myself preaching at the opening worship service for a local fair.
For sermon-prep help, I frequently look at hymns, paintings, novels, poems, etc. Also Bach cantatas. Meinen Jesus laß ich nicht, written for the first Sunday after Epiphany, has intrigued me with its interpretation of Luke 2:41-52.
When I was growing up in a Lutheran parsonage on the prairies of North Dakota, our congregation hosted mission festivals during Epiphany. One week our family entertained two missionaries: a missionary to Japan who’d been born in China to Lutheran missionaries but then forced out by the communists, and a missionary who’d worked in Taiwan after the closing of the bamboo curtain.
When Stacy Johnson Myers of First Congregational Church in River Falls, Wisconsin, asked illustrator Amy Sands to create 36 images of Bible scenes for the congregation’s faith formation, the results were vivid and engaging. Now Myers has collaborated with Kathryn Brewer to create three books of these colorful images. “There are different kinds of darkness . . .” begins Light in the Darkness, which tells biblical stories from creation through Pentecost with a focus on God’s covenantal relationship with the world. Many congregations across the country are now purchasing copies of the books and prints of the artwork from the congregation’s website (firstchurchrf.org, October 4).