Word of the Week

The Trouble With Liking Your Sermon

So here's the background:

This summer, I am preaching from the lectionary texts both from the Old and the New Testament. Because I've learned that I can't seem to put my thoughts together without a series to frame them on, the series for July and August is called, "Things We Need to Talk About."

The goal of the series is to make room for all of those difficult topics that never seem to make it into the corporate conversation any other time of the year. Thus far our topics have included, God and country, Immigration, Hospitality and the past Sunday, prayer.

It seems odd that prayer would be listed in a "Things We Need to Talk About" series, doesn't? But, I intentionally honored last Sunday's lectionary gospel text on prayer, hoping to explore the topic from the perspective of some of the tough, yet unspoken concerns many of us have in our prayer life.

The Sermon Dilemma:

Fun came for me in this week's sermon task. I enjoyed thinking through the familiar text from Luke 11:1-13 with fresh eyes. I was spiritually enriched by the exegetical research I did in preparation for Sunday. And, in the end, I really liked what found its way to paper as the manuscript of the sermon.

Yet, this was a problem.

The problem was I nerves: I struggled to stay on script and the precise tone and quality of my voice staggered. And, as much as I believed in what I said,  I feared my passion was masked by my waffling body language.

And, this is not a new problem for me. I always find it difficult to deliver sermons that I think are meaningful, that I know I did my absolute best on, and those I feel strongly have the power to speak to the hearts of God's people in my congregation.  It seems counterintuitive and it’s quite frustrating.

Why? I have so much emotionally and spiritually invested in the message of the sermon that I fear the results of "What if the congregation doesn't feel as strong about this as I do?" The fear is what breaks my normal routines down and changes what is usually easy for me: the delivery of the sermon. I want you, the hearers to like it as much as I do, so that I just can’t seem to get it together.

So, because of this trouble I had yesterday with liking my sermon, I am actually going to suggest today a rarity: my manuscript is better than what was given on Sunday morning.  I'll include it in another post for you to read it if you'd like.

And, I'm vowing that next time I know I "like my sermon," I'll spend more time rehearsing it hopefully to work through some of my fear of the congregational response.

Just know, my beloved Washington Plaza friends, how important my sermon offerings are to you each week. They are my highest gift of spiritual love given to you. Forgive me, for sometimes forgetting that it is God's Spirit drawing us together through scripture anyway. There's no need to be afraid of what happens after the words are said.  I just need to say what I need to say and let the rest be.