Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 9: I Don't Know What to Call Day Nine

The worst part of worship prep for me is the sermon title. Oh how I hate having to commit to a topic by Wednesday, when the sermon itself will not be preached until Sunday. So much can happen in between! And no matter how much preparation and research I put in, there is always something left to write early Sunday morning. Always. I struggle to feel comfortable with that living aspect to preaching, because I honestly think it's the Spirit's way of keeping me out of the way of the message. But I'd really like to tie everything up nicely in each sermon, give it a really fabulous ending and then receive high-fives from everyone in the receiving line at the back of the sanctuary. Unfortunately, it never works that way.

Two weeks ago I preached a sermon that was well on its way to being finished early on Saturday night. It was on the Transfiguration from Luke 9. I had done some language work on it, read a few commentaries, and it was 3/4 done. And then, it was as if God turned out the light and said, "it's finished. Go to bed." So I did. The next morning, the anxiety to work out a good ending never came, so I went to church with my 3/4 completed sermon. I got up to preach, knowing full well that I had no ending, but I was still not bothered.

When the black type ran out and the blank page took over, the words from Luke 9:35 rang out as if they were being spoken aloud in the sanctuary: 'This is my Son, my Chosen One, Listen to Him." So simple, yet so clear. It was as if the voice spoke to us all, coming from that powerful event two thousand years ago to the present. Jesus spoke of love and justice and did it in a powerful and subversive way. "Listen to him," the voice said.

Silly, silly preacher woman. Every week, I, like poor Peter on that mountaintop, have hoped to build some sort of permanent dwelling for the prophets of God with my words. Some sort of lasting tribute in each sermon with perfectly crafted sentences and sound theology. But I, like Peter, have been missing the point. We can't contain the glory of the Lord in a dwelling place, a Temple, or an award winning sermon. The words worth repeating have already been written. And God has commanded us through scripture once again to take heed.


  1. Does posting on Facebook that you're still not on facebook really get to count? Hmmmmmmmm. Wondered where you were though! Some of us make our living on Facebook - just saying. :-)

    Interestingly though, every year I give up television, movies, and usually videogames (if there's not some work requirement) for two solid months. I find it really improves a lot of my enjoyment of life, and if I could find a way for it to be summer all year I'd probably always be happy that way. But I don't give up internet... and remember that unlike those other media Facebook has a genuine & valuable social component!

    Good luck in your journey...


  2. Hey Brian! I don't mean to make a statement that Facebook is wrong, but it had become a major time consumer for me, and I felt giving it up would make the kind of impact on my spiritual life that I need to get more focused on God. And I totally agree about the valuable social component, which I actually planned to write about next because of a really cool email I've gotten. I wanted to explore what it was like to give up the social network for a bit and be present to the people I live with a little more. It has been good, but hard.

    I know it was cheating a bit to post on Facebook that link, although I wasn't able to see anything except the field where I entered the update, and I figured it would be a way to keep the account current.

    At the very least, it's caused me to think about how much time I spend on the computer, and has helped me balance my life a bit more. The blog is still computer work but it's writing, which is something I love and is a creative practice.

    I'll be back, I promise! I love Facebook and all the people like you that it keeps me in touch with, so I would not want to abandon it entirely. I'd like to be in charge of how I use it rather than the other way around.

    Blessings to you my friend