Did you notice it last Sunday? Did you notice when I skipped the gospel reading and went right into the sermon? I had my papers prepared – they were out and in the right order, but I just jumped ahead. I took a deep breath and a sip of my tea and then launched into my homiletical illustration, my story, my “hook” as John Popper from the band Blues Traveler would call it. I even looked up at the screen briefly and felt puzzled because our always “with it” techies had not advanced to my photo and the name of this week’s sermon… And yet I bulldozed right ahead. Telling a story about things that bring us joy and things that don’t. It was only when I got to the “meat” of the sermon, talking about John and his followers, that I realized, OOPS! I didn’t read the scripture! There was no context! I was grateful for the grace you all afforded me, but truly mortified. Although I chalked it up to the sleepless night before and the busy-ness of the morning, I was still pondering the situation a few days later. After all, I’ve been a pastor for about nine years now. That’s over 450 Sunday mornings that I have read the gospel and then shared a message. If I can miss something as central to worship as the scriptures, what else is getting lost in my life and maybe in yours?
What are we forgetting, friends, as we make lists of what to buy and what to bake, who to call and what party to attend? As we attend to our day to day needs and pay the bills and show up for others? Are you sleeping enough? Drinking enough? Exercising? Are you nourishing your spirit? Have you become so busy that even something as basic and fundamental to life as quiet and reading and prayer become secondary? The great commandment tells us that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Self-care is written into the scripture! This busy season I invite you to slow down for a moment. To take some space and spend some time with what really matters. And, when you forget, when you realize it’s dark outside and your list is only halfway completed, and you haven’t paused to eat, much less pray, take a cue from your fellow congregants last Sunday and give yourself some grace and then start again where you left off.