Thoughts on Preaching

Laundry equipment within a room

No, this isn’t my laundry room, but writing a sermon is hard work!

It’s been an eventful week.  Not eventful in terms of “stuff happening”, but eventful meaning I’ve been busy.  I spent last week waffling between thinking/working like crazy to edit the sermon and put together a power-point picture show, and trying to avoid it altogether.  I came up with some pretty slick procrastination techniques, which you will learn about if you keep reading my highly instructive post.

1. I paid dearly for my euphoric completion to the final rough draft last week, the following day being one dragged from the bottom of the barrel.  I have not had such cranky children since I don’t know when.  I suspect I was no sweet-pea either.

2.  I painted my laundry room.  Not the whole thing, just the dark corner where the washing machine & dryer stand.  So now there’s a beautiful cream-colored corner and the rest of the room is dark lavender.  Just like the whole house used to be.  Painting the laundry room took up at least 3 mornings.  Painting is excellent for taking up many hours of valuable time, and you have something wonderful to show at the end of it.  I really felt like I’d done something useful.

3. I baked something with each of my kids.  Again, this is a useful thing for taking up extra time that you’d rather not spend on something else.  Baking with my kids tends to double the time it takes to get a batch of muffins in the oven.  Again, I didn’t feel that this was a waste of time.  My kids love to bake, and I don’t spend enough time with them one-on-one.  Each day I felt that I’d done something important.

4. We hosted company for supper one night.  That was enjoyable and worth the extra effort cleaning the house took.  It also meant I didn’t have to worry about writing that evening. 🙂

5. My dear husband and I worked all morning on Saturday to switch around our family room and living room.  That felt good too.

6. I also worked 2 evenings at my part-time job.  It’s not an intense thing – I think my official title must be “convenience store clerk” – but it usually sucks a lot of energy and leaves me pretty drained the next day.

I don’t usually have so much energy for accomplishing “stuff” during the week.  Perhaps my list of procrastination activities is really a demonstration of how much energy I received from the sermon-writing process.  And I wouldn’t say it was just “writing” either.  It was a spiritual exercise and required a lot of prayer, quiet, and focus that I don’t usually allow myself to indulge in.  And, finally, I really did get up in front of the churchful of people (“full” being a relative term since fully half the regular attendees were absent since the weekend was nice) and speak my message.

It was easier than I thought.  I’d practiced it 3 times before the real deal, and halfway through I realized I’d zoned out and was reading on auto-pilot.  It was, quite possibly, the effect of feeling terribly out-of-place.

Preaching was also harder than I thought.  I poured my soul and spirit into that sermon; swung between worried excessively about making deep theological errors and being sure I was the next Frederick Buechner; and was definite that what I had to say was what I was meant  to say.  Afterwards the most anyone had to say was “Thanks, that was great.”  That’s what people say when I bake something for potluck!

I realized that there had been more of my pride involved than I’d been aware of, and that this was one more step on my pilgrim-journey.  It was a privilege to have the time to read, write, pray, and think in order to focus on something specific.  It was a blessing to be allowed the experience of preaching when first-time sermons likely aren’t high on anyone’s list of reasons to come to church on Sunday morning.  I am so thankful to belong to a church that enthusiastically supports people trying their wings.

And so perhaps the point of the whole process was for me to try my hand at something new.  I still have no idea if what I spoke was worth anything to anyone listening, but it was life-changing for me.

*A side note:  I sure appreciate what the pastor of our church does each week, although I expect it comes easier for him, having more experience than I.  Somehow, he always comes up with something edifying each week.  Amazing!

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