Years before I moved to Julian, I swore I’d never go behind the alter rail of a church. I’ve always felt comfortable in the pews and believe strongly in the important role of community in learning and expressing one’s own spirituality, but I’ve never felt called to be the visual leader of that spiritual exploration.
Then I came to Camp Stevens.
At a recent Board meeting, I shared my preaching philosophy. Camp Stevens is doing amazing things and needs financial support to continue its mission. The churches in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego play an important role in the mission of the Camp through attendance and donations of time, energy, and money. What better way to “give back” to these communities than by sharing what is happening here as it relates to the lessons of the day?
Note: my promise to clergy is never to fundraise from the pulpit.
And so I have been preaching. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Sermon-writing can be hard work, mostly because it is impossible to say all of the things that come to mind when studying the week’s lectionary readings.
- It helps to be married to a priest who knows a thing or two about the sermon writing process!
- Preaching to a congregation I’ve never met has it’s ups and downs. There is infinite freedom in being a new voice, but also a hefty amount of pressure in appropriately representing both Camp Stevens and me while being relevant to the congregation.
- It really does all come back to camp! Nature-based experiences, the importance of community, risk and challenge, retreat opportunities, and ye ol’ processing equation: what, so what, now what?