I have just finished a series of 3 services and sermons for Wembley Downs Uniting Church, and I am feeling absolutely cooked, as my son’s would say.
Why you may ask, as I do lots of services since I am employed by the Church on a part time basis. Yet we had decided that I would do the services for a whole month based on a theme, to enable more continuity in our worship.
I think I feel so exhausted because they were very personal sermons, about my own journey, my doubts and exploring, and about what I trust and believe in, which actually has very little to do with the traditional doctrine and dogmas of the Church. This was the theme I chose for August, so it’s my own fault that I’m feeling this way.
I didn’t just use my ideas but lots of current and progressive theologians and scientists just in case you thought I may have been too egocentric! Yet they have helped me shape my ideas. So I wanted to be honest about my faith with those who were listening, my lovely congregation and anyone who reads them.
What I realised is that –
Honesty in faith can be quite costly, because it leaves you vulnerable for people to accept or reject something that is very close to you. You are sharing something very intimate about yourself and that takes courage if it doesn’t match the standard view. I am lucky that those I presented to are open and exploring too.
Honesty in faith can be difficult because we have to own up to who we are and what we really do believe in our hearts, in our very souls. What we trust in. And this may require us letting go of some long held images that were given to us in our early lives. Maybe there are some advantages of not growing up in the church!
Honesty in faith can be troubling because if we really look at ourselves, we may see we are not that perfect after all (I have never thought that, by the way), but it’s also about accepting things about ourselves that we may not like. Or that the things we hold dear sometimes are not seen in our day to day living. Sometimes what we believe and how we live and act in the world are poles apart. Even if we are trying!
Honesty in faith can be confronting when we see we may be miles away from those we hold dear, who have different understanding and truths that speak to them but don’t speak to us. Its about accepting diversity, real diversity, even within our own traditions.
Phew, a long list.
Yet to work out what really drives us, what we ultimately think about any of the really big issues, is good medicine. It clears the fog of pretence, of perfection and I think allows us to move forward, accepting both the good and bad about our faith and about ourselves. After all, part of being a follower of Jesus, is being open to transformation and renewal. Being able to start again.
In fact honesty in faith can ultimately be uplifting if it enables us to coalesce all that we know about the world, about ourselves and about our faith tradition into a meaningful, fulfilling whole.
I have to say, I was as honest as I could be in what drives me to stay in the church, well at least Wembley Downs, and drives me to still be connected to my faith tradition, as challenging as that is sometimes.
I am proud of those sermons, but I realise that these were as good as it gets for me, in terms of this sharing. From now on I will focus on others and how they can speak to us, and less about Karen Sloan.
The next series, starting in October, will be about women, both in the bible and in our world. Feisty, strong, inspiring women.
Less about me and more about them. As long as I haven’t been fired!
If you are interested in the sermons here is the link them.