On Sunday I've got an away fixture. I don't preach elsewhere very often, mostly because I don't get invited! Or maybe my reputation precedes me? I also suffer from what yo might cal "I'd like to preach that one!" syndrome. You see, every time I put a preaching plan together I look at the topics and think to myself "I'd like to preach that one!" So it can be quite hard to give a topic away.
Plus you are only supposed to have four Sundays a year free to preach in other churches, and I'd rather have Sundays off to be honest. It can be quite hard to go to another church. If it's a fairly traditional Baptist Church, they will want you to lead the service, but I don't want to do that. I'm trying to get other people to lead services at my own church, I'm not about go running off to another church and lead theirs!
Anyway, back to Sunday. The topic I've been given is rather interesting. It seems everyone is doing the Sermon on the Mount at the moment. We've just finished, my previous church is in the middle of it, and the one I'm visiting is working their way through it too. The subject I've been given for Sunday is "worship and fasting" or is it "fasting and worship"? I'm not sure it makes a big difference which way round it is. The reading is possibly the shortest every reading in the whole of church history. Three verses. So I guess we don't have to worry that people will forget what the reading is about!
But the topic is interesting. When Jesus talks about fasting in Matthew 6, the context isn't worship, it's prayer. We most naturally associate fasting with prayer, and understandably so. But what might the link be between fasting and worship?
So that's my task. To think outside the box a little about the purpose of fasting and where it fits in the context of worship. There aren't too many clues in the three verse reading, but there may be more to this than meets the eye.
It rather reminds me of the somewhat odd title I got in January when I was asked to preach for the united service for Christian Unity. Actually the title was fine, hospitality as witness, as I recall, it was the reading that was odd. It had so little to do with the theme that it took a while to figure out how to do justice to both the reading and topic.