Saturday, June 13, 2009

Preaching for me is like marinating

Pastors in the region must be getting the itch to travel--I have three preaching opportunities the next three Sundays. I am curious about the effect on my writing. Will I use writing to help my homilietical reflections? Maybe. Will I use writing to procrastinate from real preparation? Likely. Will I avoid writing because I am so swamped with preparation? Doubtful.

I don't believe my sermonic work takes a procrastinatory arc. An outside observer might see my work this way, but preaching is like marinating. It doesn't look like much is going on, but it's still an important part of food preparation--the question is whether I do too much, or not enough. I get a core idea based on a text, and I let it sit with my experience or community experience, and pray and wrestle with the Holy Spirit that the Gospel comes out of my mouth. I have marinated a sermon too much on occasion--I'll get a really good idea, do a lot of research, pray, study--and then realize I have too much material. My problem is that when I find good material, I want to use it, and then trimming becomes painful. Or, I get caught up in the idea to the point where I forget I'm a geek and spend too much time with information and ideas that will not connect with people, and I have served myself, failing to serve God's people.

Tomorrow is my first sermon since Easter Sunday, April 12. I haven't gone this long without preaching in 4 years, though it seems to be the usual gap in between interim ministry congregations I serve. The difference in this preaching segment I have in June is that I know I won't be preaching for more than 1 Sunday in each congregation. I haven't preached single Sunday supply in several years.

The break for me has been beneficial, not least for the reason I do not always miss the hectic Sunday mornings and I appreciate the opportunity to go to worship with my family. I wonder if the marinade of rest from preaching has sat long enough, or too long.

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