Thank you for warmly welcoming me back to St. James following two weeks of study-leave/vacation. The best part about being away was not that I was at Chautauqua, which is a place that I love, but that I was able to spend some quality time with my daughter who is working at the institution this summer.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well-attended yesterday’s worship service was given that it is still vacation season. With school’s start on the horizon, I know that we all are taking advantage of every opportunity to play that we are given.
Remembering that all of life’s good things, like vacation, come from God is at the heart of gratitude, which was the subject of yesterday’s sermon that set in motion the Summer of Psalms series that I will be preaching between now and Labor Day. Since psalms are essentially prayers that are set to music and St. James is a singing congregation, I believe that you (and I) and the psalms are made for each other.
As recently as this morning, I was reminded that a new pastor adds value to congregational life by helping a church to see themselves with fresh eyes. Thus, I hope that you are able to appreciate the observation that I shared in worship yesterday, the one about St. James being “a jam session waiting to happen.”
I give thanks that we, as a congregation, are as musical as we are, and that we are committed to praying for one another, the church and the world. I recognize that prayer may be intimidating, because sometimes, we are not sure what to say or are afraid to say to God what we are thinking or feeling (although, deep down, we know that God already knows).
By the end of this series, I hope that you will rest assured that God prefers open and honest communication to protocol or pretense. Over the next four weeks, we will consider four different genres of psalms. Among them are lament, adoration, community and wisdom. In my experience, life affords us opportunities to pray them all.
For now, I hope that you are able to savor the warmth and beauty that summer brings believing that God hears us when we say “thank you” and that God gives thanks for the praise that we render to the Holy One.
I look forward to seeing you in church soon, unless, of course, you are squeezing one more vacation out of the summer, in which case I will see you upon your return and warmly welcome you home. That’s what we do at St. James, you know: we warmly welcome God’s children home regardless of the season of the year.