Beginning this Sunday, I’ll be delving into a new sermon series called “Beginning with the Basics.” I hope to orient this sermon series around giving a good primer to all of us on our basic tenants and symbols of faith. I have developed this sermon series because our Children and Youth Committee Chair, Maegen Nair, told me that her daughter Ellie had asked some questions lately about “why we do certain things” in worship, and she wanted to give her the best answers she could. I had fielded similar questions from newcomers to church, so I thought it might serve all of us to have a “practical orientation” to the beginning of the year.
Much of the worship service has an unspoken meaning and symbolism, and it probably won’t hurt for us to acquaint or reacquaint ourselves with them. So, each sermon over the next 8 weeks or so will be on a basic doctrine or ethos of Methodism, while I’ll also take a moment to give an explanation as to why we do things like “pass the peace,” read the Gospel from the center of the sanctuary, call ourselves to worship, and the like. I believe this will be a nice component to our corporate worship together that will enhance and support a new confirmation season beginning in February.
Now, one strength of “unspoken meaning” is that whatever is represented can take on multiple meanings for the people who observe doctrine or ritual. That’s one of the reasons I like church traditions and art. They are multivalent, and it is enjoyable to sometimes create one’s own opinion about the significance or meaning of something. So, that being said, my weekly elucidation on doctrine and praxis will draw on the traditional explanations as to why things are the way they are, but you should know from the outset, there many rich interpretations on things from many cultures—that’s one of the strengths that the study of postcolonial theology brings to our perspective, and one reason I was so happy to invite Lisa Dellinger to speak about that topic in church in September of 2012.
I look forward to starting 2014 with our loving church family at University UMC with this edifying study. I hope it starts some valuable conversations.