I was remembering the other day my first time preaching in the pulpit. Ohmygosh, I was so nervous! I had led worship a month or so earlier at our parish Good Friday service, and that went alright. But I had not preached at that service.
I remember so well that first time preaching because it was Memorial Day weekend, 2003. Not in my home church, but in a sister church of our parish. Having never prepared a sermon, I didn’t know where to start. But something told me … today I would identify that “something” as a Holy Spirit nudge … somehow I knew to start with what I know. And the rest would flow.
My earliest memories of Memorial Day include a morning ceremony at the high school gym with much pomp and circumstance. The high school band was at its finest. Those in attendance stood as the color guard processed with the flags. Behind them, dignitaries made their way to the stage. Veterans from various branches of service filled in the reserved seating on the floor. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts brought up the rear. Speeches were made. Special music sung or played. Prayers were prayed.
After this, many would go to the cemetery to give proper respect to those who had served their country. The 21-gun salute. The playing of Taps. And the singing of Taps by our Girl Scout troops.
Over time, Memorial Day weekend included, for me, family camping and boating at Lovewell Lake, attending Davenport’s alumni banquet, and leading my own Girl Scout troops in the singing of Taps.
I could have ended my first sermon there. But I had more to share. I didn’t know I would have another opportunity. And another and another. Instead, my first morphed into my longest sermon EVER.
Little did I know that God had been preparing me to share how my story intersects with God’s story. Hmmm. Sounds like testimony.
Lord, prepare me to be a testimony, pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living testimony for you.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat