Word of the Week

When I Am Not Writing My Sermon

In my weekly schedule Friday is usually set aside as sermon writing day. It doesn't always happen (you know, there's always Saturday), but I try to honor the discipline of time it takes to write a thoughtful sermon by putting it as my only "do to" on Fridays. It is also a day I work from home.

With this being the case, you'd think I'd have it done by noon so I'd could have the rest of the day for leisure or one of those church administrative tasks that just has to be done before Sunday. But I don't. I almost never get my sermon written before 5 or 6 pm on Friday afternoon. And that is, if I am lucky.

Such a fact drives my husband crazy because he knows my mind is never at peace until at least something is drafted. He also knows that I won't be ready to go out to date night (what we do on Fridays when we're both in town) until it's finished.

But the thing is-- I can't help myself.  As much as I wish a sermon would flow like an English term paper I used to write in college, it doesn't. And, I don't think it ever will.

Sermons to me are sacred acts. Sermon writing is a conversation between God and me and whatever text I happen to have before me in a given week.

And because this is true, I can't just "Sit down and write a sermon" the way some do. No, it really does take me the whole day to write. And I'm not just saying this because my head is buried in commentaries all day.

Rather, sermon writing for me is active. I have to do something to find meaning, to collect my words and to be in a mental space to allow it all to flow together.

So when "I'm not writing my sermon" what you might find me doing is:

- baking bread

-folding the laundry

-making myself a sandwich for lunch

-straightening up the living room

-filing the mail

- serving the web

Though many might call this procrastination, the longer I've been a regular preacher the more I've come to give myself the grace that "this is my process." Mind you, all of these activities I do alone. This may be the key to it all: solitude (what we in our culture have so little of these days).

Getting my house in order, or baking bread for Saturday morning breakfast or even catching up with the latest news on Facebook can indeed be just what gets the holy juices flowing. Sure, there comes a point when I have to do as my fellow writing Rev friend, Ruth says, "put butt in chair and write" but until the time comes, it's good to do other things. (I will always be thankful for the wisdom in particular of Kathleen Norris' book, The Qutoritian Mysteries that helped me down this track back in seminary).  These others things may indeed be my work.

For after all, aren't I preaching about a God who first said I'll met you every time you break bread? I'll keep baking it and cleaning my house as I keep learning how to preach week after week after week.