Lay Preachers

St. Paul's Lay Preachers group prepares and deliverers sermons, generally on the first Sunday of the month.  Please read some of the moving sermons that have been given.

by Elizabeth Laurençot

I find it interesting how the spirit of God moves. Here's a small example: the lay preaching group along with Terry had agreed that the members of the group would preach on the first Sunday of each month. But since we had the Appreciative Inquiry workshop this past Sunday, that wasn't an option for May. Instead, I was assigned to preach on May 11, which is a fun situation for me. For one thing, it's Mother's Day...and I'm a mother, and it's an unusual treat to be able to speak to you all today. And it's also Pentecost, and I enjoy very much the way we celebrate Pentecost here at St. Paul's, with the reading from Acts in many languages.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to some of you, but many of you may not know that my college degrees are in the field of linguistics, which is the study of language. Among linguists, there's something we call "the quintessential cocktail party question," and it goes like this: "Oh, you're a linguist....So, how many languages do you speak?"

Aside from those rare individuals who can rattle off a long list, most linguists I know claim some competence in two or three different languages.

But as for me, I always feel-perhaps ironically-a bit tongue-tied when asked this question. I usually respond with something like, "Umm....well....actually, you know, umm....I've studied a number of languages: German, French, Russian, Japanese, American Sign Language, Hebrew."

More often than not, though, my skills are usually limited to phrases like "What time is it?" or "I have a new yellow pencil."

But because I do enjoy learning different languages, I work on them, I take classes, I get a tutor, or arrange for conversation partners, but all of those efforts clearly don't make a fluent speaker. What would it take for me to really be able to improve my skills in, let's say, French?

Honestly, I think it would have to be an immersion experience. I would have to be in a situation where I had no choice but to speak French, because if English were an option, knowing myself, I'd probably try to take the easy way out.

My guess is, that kind of situation would, quite frequently, be quite uncomfortable. I'd have to be willing to make lots of mistakes. I'd have to be willing to step out of my comfort zone. There would be the potential for miscommunication; I might not be able to get my thoughts across clearly. There would be the potential for misunderstandings; I might not understand what someone else is trying to tell me.

And I even think, it might have to be the case that I didn't get to actually choose the specifics of the situation. I might just have to be thrust into it. Then I'd probably be motivated enough to work my way through it.

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