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A Really Smart Congregation

This Sunday we start a new sermon series at Virginia-Highland Church. After having to preach about how the assigned lectionary readings fit with movies like “The Avengers,” and “The Lego Movie,” and “Jurassic Park,” I should have taken August off. Instead, we challenged the congregation to “Stump the Preacher,” an idea I stole from my friend Sid Fowler, pastor of First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. We invited folks to submit questions that they want to hear answered in sermons. I’m not sure what I thought their questions would be, but I realized all too late that we have a really smart congregation.

I am missing one Sunday in the series because I’m preaching at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church in Savannah. This will be the first time I have preached in a United Methodist church since the denomination kicked me out for being gay. What excited me about this date was that I thought I could pass off the toughest question in our new series to Rev. Kathy Burton, my associate who has to substitute for me theSunday I am gone. The problem is ALL the questions are tough.

In the bigger picture, that is a good thing. This is not a congregation of people wrestling with trivial or superficial questions. They have thought things through for themselves. Even the first question, which came from one of our youth, speaks to the depth of the folks I am privileged to worship with eachSunday. He asked why Jesus is most often depicted with blond hair and blue eyes.

You have to come to church Sunday (or watch the sermon on our website next week) to hear what I have to say, but that question tells me that even our youth are being challenged to question assumptions and seek to hear from our still-speaking God. I can’t help but believe that this pleases God.

At the end of his life, Jesus said to his disciples that he had yet many things to tell us. Well, what new things have you heard from the Spirit lately? Has God quit speaking to you, or are you just not listening? What will it take for us to find those “thin places” through which the Spirit can whisper? Too often it takes a tragedy, but, if it is all the same, I prefer simply cleaning out my ears.


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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