Many moons ago (well, it seems like it anyway) I agreed to do three pulpit supply dates in August. My thinking was that by the end of July my dissertation would be progressing well and things might be easing off a little. Aye right!
Now, one of those churches uses the lectionary and the other two don’t so that sets the agenda for at least one of the Sundays. All three churches are geographically diverse and so there is virtually no risk of ‘being followed’ from one to the other. So, given that it’s unlikely that the lectionary passage is going to crop up in the two other churches any Sunday soon, why not make life easier and use the same sermon and order of service for each church?
It’s probably what I’ll end up doing (with variations to allow for the different length of sermon anticipated at each), but part of me still thinks that it’s ‘cheating’. Mind you, a few years ago we were on holiday and happened to catch a visiting preacher in the church we went to. Soon afterwards we heard that same person in another church and, surprise! surprise! heard the same sermon.
Maybe I should look on it as way of reflecting on how the same text/message is received differently in different contexts. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to present the same text in different ways and so experience the richness to be found in scripture. The next question though is whether I start with the short sermon and pad it out or do the long one and trim it down.
Anyway, as I was saying…