Preparing for Worship: July 7, 2024

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Preparing For Worship

By Timothy Peoples

It was 14 years ago this week when a church much like Wilshire allowed me to preach as their pastoral intern. I was a junior in college, afraid as all get-out and not fully ready to preach at the 8:30 and 11 o’clock worship services. The only thing I felt confident about was the slim-fit Banana Republic suit I was wearing; it was dyn-o-mite! So even if the sermon fell through, I at least looked good delivering it.

I got up to the podium and began “After a huge storm we pretty much played in the mud …” I don’t remember a lot of the middle, but I surely do remember the end: “Well, will you pray with me?” That is not to say that the middle did not matter, but those last words of prayer were what I felt the entire congregation did for me and with me leading up to the preaching, throughout the sermon, and I know still to this day. That first sermon was all about the making of community and the strength of community to carry on in togetherness.

We, like the congregation above, are an equipping congregation. We bring in interns and residents to allow them to discover their voice and calling among and with us. As they come, they learn from us how the church operates, and this allows them to hit the ground running, different from the day to day of universities and seminaries. But we also learn from them; it is a symbiotic relationship. We are enriched by their knowledge and passion. The church gets the opportunity to see the world through another generation’s eyes and better grasp how the world works differently than how we may individually envision.

I was recently speaking with a congregant, and they mentioned, “I believe the beauty of interns and residents is that together they keep the congregation young. There are so many churches struggling today because they are not welcoming new insight, ideas and perspectives. Through our Pathways program this naturally happens for Wilshire and helps us grow as a congregation.”

Today, one of our own preaches from the Wilshire pulpit. And I ask of you the same thing I asked of that church 14 years ago, and what I will ask of you every time any intern or resident steps onto the chancel: “Well, will you pray with and for them?” Not just for the moments they are sharing the gospel or their gifts, but for their whole life as they are courageous beings stepping out on a call of faith and saying “yes” to God. Pray that we can be a community to love, support and embolden them for the journey ahead.
Amen — may it be so.