Preaching with Ken Medema: “Wholeness Beyond Our Brokenness”

With Ken Medema, Feb 2009Among the thrills and highlights of my pastoral (and preaching) ministry was not just getting to meet and visit with Ken Medema, but having him engage one of my messages in song.

For those who don’t know Ken, his is the amazing gift (among many) of hearing a message or a story and then being able to compose (on the spot) a musical response — kind of the Wayne Brady thing (from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” fame). But, in Medema’s case, there’s an amazing instrumental composition… and very profound spirituality and theology.

And so, mine was the joy of not only getting to meet Ken (someone I first encountered at a World Council of Churches event in 1988) but also getting to collaborate with him— there, in the winter of 2009, when I was serving as Senior Pastor of Strawbridge UMC in Kingwood, Texas.  (That will help you understand Ken’s use of the term “Kingwoodians” in his composition.)

You can engage Ken’s message in music directly in this recording – going to the 28:00 mark:

Background to his composition is found in…

  • the title and text of that morning’s message:
    “Do You Want to Get Well?” (John 5:1-15)
  • a video that I prepared for that service
    (focused on an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit):

  • my message proper
    (which starts in the recording, above at the 4:40 mark)

I consider the message (and especially Ken’s composition)
to be most relevant to the days we are now encountering and navigating.
His is an Easter message we need to hear over and over again:
that our brokenness
and the pain of disorientation
and the mess of it all:
these are real, yes.
But, hold on, Friends!
A time of wholeness
and reconciliation
(with God, neighbor, and true selves)
is coming!

Considering the feedback of parishoners back then
(i.e., that Ken’s “second sermon” was, by far, the best),
there’s certainly the message, too:
that on the other side of all our frail constructions,
Grace is there to round things out
and take us home!

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