Good singing, conversation and fellowship at St. Matthew’s, Lisbon

A big part of the joy of my ministry is experiencing the uniqueness of each congregation of the diocese. St. Matthew’s, Lisbon, leans toward the charismatic and an important part of the worship each week is the platform of praise – an extended period of singing the praises of God at the beginning of each service. Since I enjoy singing, learning new music was a highpoint for me.

Gretchen and I drove up from Portland in time to be briefed on the service and to enjoy the hospitality of rector Beau and Debra Wagner and Deacon Gail White. The service was a vibrant mixture of the Book of Common Prayer and praise music. I offered a children’s talk on the work of bishops. Gretchen and I shared in special offerings of food and money for ministries of the parish.

For some time I’ve been thinking about a new approach to preaching during my visits, and I had some success with my effort at a dialogue sermon. I think the bishop can be helpful in our shared effort to engage in God’s ministry, and during my sermon I invited people to talk about how they had blessed their neighbors in Christ’s name. I had some confidence that the people of St. Matthew’s would be responsive to my question, and they did not disappoint! There may well be a dialogue sermon in your future as well.

Lisbon is the home of the annual Moxie Festival, and St. Matthew’s gifted me with an orange Moxie hat and a twelve pack of Moxie! The parish has been increasingly involved in the community festival. Debra Wagner is a leader in festival planning, and St. Matthew’s provides food for participants.

Following a reception I met with the Vestry for a lively discussion of ministry, including questions about “Deacon’s Masses” and my recent pastoral letter on collaboration. It was stretching conversation.

The day ended at the rectory and time with the rector and family. A full day indeed.

3 responses to “Good singing, conversation and fellowship at St. Matthew’s, Lisbon

  1. Jonathan Appleyard

    We too have been dialogging during the homily at St. Saviour’s and in some our our MDI collaboration worship.

    My friend Chuck Bradshaw mentioned yesterday that the root word for our our word homily means, something like a friendly chat. Lively, among friends, informal, gathered with a teachers but very different from a teacher’s discourse or teaching.

    Chuck correct me, please. Am I even close?

    And just as you implied, Bishop, the purpose of our dialog homily is not so much to involve the congregation in the sermon, as it is to give voice to individual experience and reflection on God’s presence and action and to listen to and, we hope, hear one an0ther’s witness.

    It hasn’t always worked well or smoothly (in this it has something akin to my homilies), but it has blessed us. After listening to a few of my thoughts about salt in Jesus’ time and the metaphor in his teaching, the congregation’s reflection on being salt was challenging, encouraging and full of surprise for all, moi included.

    Maybe we could organize a clergy workshop or clergy day on preaching? What is happening to preaching in the 21st century? How do we, deacons and priests, continue to grow as preachers? Open up and encourage lay preaching? These are important concerns and at the heart of our mission.

    Thank you Steve for you exploring new music and new preaching that is grounded in our tradition.

  2. Good idea Jonathan, I second the motion for a clergy day on preaching,

  3. Absolutely! I really found the fall clergy day section on Advent preaching to be helpful!

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