No classes for me this week. This our quarterly reading break so there are no classes. However, there is still plenty of work to be done. Really, this should be writing week for me.
Just today, I finished my first sermon and ‘delivered’ it to a congregation of one -- Jessica. She thought it was good, which I was thankful for. As she said herself, “I'd tell you if it wasn’t good.”
I must say that sermon preparation and writing is that part of this entire process that freaked me out the most – and after completing my first one, it still does. But for reasons different than I had anticipated.
I had thought that the hardest part would be the research part…the exegesis, the textual analysis, interpreting the themes, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there will be times where that will be challenging. For this first go around, we’ve got some ‘softballs’ for texts. My first one is from Matthew 9:1-8 – Jesus Healing of the Paralytic. So I accomplished that without too much difficulty.
That’s all well and fine, but I still didn’t have twenty minutes worth of material. Enter freak out #2. Well, it turns out that when you start looking for stories to accompany what the text is telling you there is a lot there too.
All that being said, I’ve have a lot of time to think about this sermon so I had been milling potential things around in my mind for a while. So under normal circumstances this may be a different story.
Even so, I was pleased to learn that those things I thought would be really hard and really made me nervous where not that nerve-racking.
For me, the biggest challenge is wrapping my mind around the fact that this nine page document, by some miracle of the Holy Spirit, becomes a word from God. How does that happen? And who am I to deliver it? This is the part, that now, freaks me out the most.
I would imagine that over time, these feelings of fear, trepidation, and awe will ebb and flow. Sometimes, stories will be hard to come by and other times the exegesis will prove to be challenging. But through all of that, I hope I never loose that sense of humility and awe that it is, ultimately, a word from the Lord. And it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that it becomes so.
I suppose that it’s that fact that, in the end, should give me a sense of peace that it’s not about me or the stories I tell. Ultimately, it’s a word about God, that comes from God. The fact that it comes (someday at least) through me is both amazing and humbling. And I’m looking forward to doing it more.