Last summer, I read the lectionary for several Sundays that I was scheduled to preach – three in August and one in September. I realized, as I read and made notes, that all four of the Hebrew scripture readings focused on brothers and/or sisters. What a great start for a sermon series!
Unfortunately, the great start seemed stalled: all four sermons were scheduled for different congregations. But what you learn, when you don’t preach every Sunday, is that sermons are as much about the “preach-er” as they are about the “preach-ee” and I felt that I deserved the fun of treating those stories as a series, even if no one else ever saw them that way.
In addition, I was thinking a lot about my siblings as the summer began. With more than a decade between our ages – and something like a thousand miles between us, too – there are challenges to our relationships. I hoped I would hear something personal in the writing and preaching of this series.
And then, as God so often does, perspectives changed. The first week, I preached and then I saw the backpacks the congregation had purchased to fill and distribute to students. Yes, that is how we need to live with our siblings across generations and outside family lines! The second week, I preached the day after Charlottesville – with my friend and fellow clergy preaching a counterpoint to my privileged perspective. And, yes, that is how we need to live with our siblings across racial/ethnic lines!
Week three, I preached in a house church where the music shook the rafters and the welcome felt like home, and where people shared their lives so openly and willingly. And yes, that, too, is how we need to live with our siblings in any new environment we find ourselves. Week four arrives a few days from now and I know what I expect to happen…. but God has that way of changing perspectives so I’ll find out more on Sunday.
Meanwhile, for those of you who have heard one of the sermons and want to see what the rest felt like… Well, here they are – three written versions (not exactly what got said, of course) and one video link.
Community Church of the Pelhams: Life with our Brothers and Sisters, Version 1 (Jacob & Esau) August 6 2017 sermon Pelhams
Judson Memorial Church: Life with our Brothers and Sisters, Version 2 (Joseph & his siblings) Click here for the video
All Soul’s Bethlehem: Life with our Brothers and Sisters, Version 3 (Moses & Miriam) August 27 All Souls sermon alone
Chelsea Community Church: Life with our Brothers and Sisters, Version 4 (Moses & Aaron) September 10 CCC sermon