Word of the Week

Monday Mornings

monday garfieldMonday, Monday . . .

(Anyone have the song in their head that I do as I type this?)

I think Monday mornings can be one of the most difficult or exciting days for pastors depending on how Sunday went.

You can be bouncing off the walls with excitement for all the encouragement that has been seen in a congregation over the weekend (which I have done) or you can feel like you are nursing your wounds a little based on interactions with people, response to your sermon or worship attendance.

With Sundays being our biggest day of the week, anything can happen. Anything is possible and how it all goes really does affect your pastor-- though she or he may not tell you this directly.

For me, there were good things to celebrate about our gathering yesterday- the choir sounded wonderful and helped us to worship through their beautiful music even though many of the regular members were out of town, I taught Sunday School to a large group gathered around the tables with some very eager and receptive learners, and we had a peaceful Church Council meeting after lunch that got out five minutes early (a first)!

But, then there was the sermon. For some reason, as I was delievering it, I felt awkward and as if my words weren't connecting with the listeners. It was something I'd never experienced in this way since becoming the pastor of Washington Plaza. I wanted to call a "time-out" by paragraph three and find another sermon to give. It was difficult to get through it because I wasn't getting the usual eager eyed feedback and I was rattled a bit until the end (when I think I got at least some of my stride back).

Yet, upon further reflection of  the content of the sermon, I don't know what it was. I worked as hard on it as I usually do. I really tried to tell the story of the passage, knowing that it is faithful to tell a story if you have one. (The stories of scripture speak truth enough for themselves, I believe) Of course I have a few ideas of what I'd like to improve on for next week, but ultimately I think it was just one of those days. . .  

Preaching can be studied and rehearsed and thoughtful and prayerful, but in the end, I think that preaching is mystery. It is a mystery how God takes the word and makes it come alive in the hearts of the listeners. Preaching is more than what I prepare with words on page. Preaching is even more how I deliver the sermon. Preaching is about receiving the word and what comes forth as a result.

I care deeply about being a good preacher and connecting in faithful ways with the congregation, so know I'll get back on the horse and try again next week. But, as I keep working on the messages I seek to deliver, it is the job of the congregation to seek to be listeners. Take charge of your own experience of the text. Come to church prepare to receive and pray for your pastor that she might confidently take hold of exactly what God would have her to say from week to week to week. It isn't any easy task.

And, now back to the Monday morning . . .