The theme was ‘Stories of Faith’, the place was Westminster College and the participants were Lay Preachers. For the second time I have been able to attend one of the three 48 hour courses run by this Resource Centre for Learning specifically for Lay Preachers. This is not an official duty for the Assembly Moderator but as a lay person with something of a mission to encourage and celebrate lay people in their variety of ministries it seems like a good thing to include on my blog. When I was talking to one of the participants she said ‘I don’t think people realise that we do continue our training like this’. Other conversations around the meal tables shared thoughts about the struggles, commitment and time required to prepare worship. What perhaps we don’t articulate so well is the joy we experience in doing it.
The theme ‘The Stories of Faith’ took us from Abraham – what a lot we can learn from that story. Not all positive, even if he is held up in the New Testament as an example to us all, but very much the story of a human being with all his faults who, at least some of the time, tried to do what God required and like each of us failed often.
We spent time thinking about the Sermon on the Mount and how Jesus used words and images to help his listeners to grasp what he was trying to teach them. Many of those words would for them (and should for us if we know our Bibles well enough) have pointed to familiar stories which in their turn reminded them of their ancestry and all that those traditions could teach them. Above all that they were part of the eternal story of God.
We are privileged to have skilled theologians in our Resource Centres for Learning able to share their expertise – for those of us who lead worship Sunday by Sunday our hope is that we can use a little of that knowledge to inform our preparations and our worship so equipping all of us to better serve our God.