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To the Saints that are in Los Osos,
When I was in Junior High School I discovered that I was terrified speaking in front of groups of people. The summer before I began High School I took two classes in summer school. As luck would have it, one – World History – was taught by a gentleman named Harry Steinmetz who was also the school speech coach. He pitched the speech team to all of us incoming students. Naturally, being who I am, I signed up to be part so as to force myself to confront my fear of public speaking.
For the next three years I participated in city and county speech competitions. My primary event was debate in which my partner and I always finished well. In our senior year, we actually competed in the statewide tournament and finished as the 13th ranked debate team in California. I never competed in the oratory and interpretive categories, but I did sometimes compete in Extemporaneous and Impromptu categories. In Extemporaneous speaking one is given a topic – usually related to a current event and give 45 minutes to prepare a speech. In Impromptu, one is given a more general topic and given only 10 minutes to prepare a speech. Many have remarked on my style of preaching without notes, and I owe at least some of that ability to Mr. Steinmetz.
I mention this because I’ve often thought it would be fun… and that I would be good at… receiving a sermon topic at the beginning of a worship service and then providing a scripture and a sermon 20 minutes later. I have occasionally thought about actually doing this but I’ve always decided that the Gospel and the Christian Community both deserve more thoughtful preparation when such is possible. (Maybe I’ll give it a try some Sunday just before I retire in 5 years or so).
At any rate, this was part of the reason I began doing “August Requests.” I started in August of 1993, my first August with the Woodland Hills UMC, introducing it the way I have my first August in each appointment since, “Sure he can preach, but does he take requests?” Thank you to those who have made sermon and hymn requests for August 2019.
Each year I’ve had many requests for hymns you would expect, “How Great Thou Art,” “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” etc. This year, for the first time, I’ve received more requests for hymns from The Faith We Sing than from The United Methodist Hymnal.” I will be doing my best to honor as many of these requests as I can. I received fewer sermon requests than in some years, but here are the requests and the dates I will be using them:
August 4 – “Aldersgate – John Wesley’s experience”
August 11 – “Exegete the Lord’s Prayer Ecumenical Text, (see comments by Pope Francis”
August 18 – “Do a sermon from the book Song of Songs.”
August 25 – “Christian justice in our world / Care for the least of these as they are your children.”
I have preached on all of these topics except the last. I’ve never heard
a sermon on the Song of Songs and I don’t know for sure any colleagues who have
done so. Thanks for that suggestion. It will be challenging and interesting.
See you in Church,