This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach elsewhere. I went over to First Unitarian Church of Newton, to fill-in for the incomparable James Ford, who is on sabbatical. I had a lovely time. The building couldn't be more different from Eliot's. Ours is a stereotypical "small white church" of the New England flavor. Newton's is just plain huge in a Harry Potter sort of way that made it a fun space to be in. The congregation, of course, was very like the one at Eliot. They were warm and welcoming and--while not Christian--did not mind my fairly extensive exegesis on the story of the adolescent Jesus lost in the temple in Jerusalem.
One of the great things about supply (or exchange) preaching is that it challenges you to get out of whatever mental ruts you might have been in and to look at worship and preaching in a slightly different way. Back before I had a church, I spent a year or two supplementing my community-organizer income through itinerant preaching. Sunday brought back to me the joy and excitement of doing something different, of being challenged and rising to that challenge in a creative way.
Sunday also reminded me of how much I love my own church. Whenever I go somewhere I get a lot of questions about Eliot and its status as an Ecumenical Shared Ministry with the UUA and UCC. Pretty much all that I do is talk about Eliot during coffee hour and in the parking lot! Folks aren't hostile, just curious. I like the way we do things. I enjoy preaching and pastoring to the Eliot church and I love attending services there to hear someone else preach. This shouldn't be seen as a slam on any other religious community. It is great to be able to find a church home. Eliot happens to be mine.
I dimly recall that PeaceBang had a post about liking the church one serves but, sadly, it appears that "old blogger" is in for maintenance. Check it out later...