Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I was complaining again (or still) to my spiritual director* about preaching. Preparing sermons is by far the hardest part of my job here, which is such a shock. The stuff I thought would be hard - budgeting, conflict resolution, figuring out why there are 38 rolls of scotch tape and not a single box of staples in the office - all that is easy compared to the sermons.

Which is weird, because I really liked writing sermons when I was an associate and preached like every six weeks, and it's the kind of work you'd think I'd like - lots of reading and researching and praying and idea generation and writing. I LIKE doing all that stuff. And I like the actual preaching, too, and I get good feedback on my sermons generally, from most people. So. What is the PROBLEM?

I just cant seem to make time for it. There are so many other interesting things to do. Drive an hour to visit a guy at the VA? Check. Paint faces at the Valentine Party the church people throw for the preschool that rents from us? Check. Shoot the breeeze with the custodian? Check. Have meetings every single fricking night? Check. Well, you get the idea. And so often by the end of the week, I'm just totally out of time, and tired, honey.

So, I've been thinking if only I had a METHOD I would be a lot better, so I've tried different things every week - reading the passage on Sunday nights, copying the passage out and posting it everywhere (hat tip to ppb for that idea), studying all day on Monday (as per more cows. full disclosure - I havent actually done that studying all day thing but fretted a lot about it).

Well, my sd advised me against getting all hung about a method, and instead to 1. be authentic and 2. to get clearer about my intention - which is to meet the folks where the need is. This is a lot easier for me than trying to force myself into other people's study habits, and last week's sermon came much easier, and this one is working out better already, too. It doens't matter if I write it a different way every week (not on a schedule) and it doesnt matter, either, if I come up with a different product at the end every time (sometimes a manuscript, sometimes from notes, etc...). What matters is the authenticity and the intention. Which is probably the same for pretty much any creative endeavor, dont you think?

I hope I can keep remembering this: be authentic and be clear about your intention. Seems like that's probably good advice for, oh, every other situation in life, not just the sermon thing. See why I like my spiritual director so much?

*Did I mention that although my spiritual director lives three and half hours north, she comes through town sometimes so we still have an appointment about once a month? Which is INCREDIBLY great.


more cows than people said...

it is hard- this weekly sermonizing thing.

and if i've learned anything in six years of it it is that you have to what works for you.

your sd is wise.

i'm sorry if my method sharing earlier has been oppressive to you.

Kirstin said...

That's fantastic advice: be authentic, remember your intention.

I'll keep it.

juniper68 said...

mc - oh my gosh, please dont apologize for my neuroses. you're not oppressive at all and most of the time it helps to have lots of ideas about different ways to do things. For some reason, for sermons, it doesnt. Part of this post was to figure out why that is. I still dont have it figured out, but I'm at least feeling more at ease about it...

k - glad it helps :)

more cows than people said...

you know me, juniper. i'll apologize at the drop of a hat.

glad you're feeling clearer and better about it all.


juniper68 said...

heh - we're funny that way, huh? now I want to apologize to you for apologizing for apologizing or something...

Anonymous said...

Can I recommend a book to you? ahve you read Testimony by Anna Carter Florence? Because you sound like you would like preparing the preach the way she advocates in the book (which I think is a great way, but not my way, of sermon prep) The basic, simple premise is to make a sermon prep part of all those other things that you're doing.

Well, there it is-- assvice. Take it or leave it.

juniper68 said...

thanks ppb - I'll put it on my wish list!