Posts Tagged ‘sermon’

So, it’s about that time again, when it’s my turn to preach again, and I’m looking for input again, so I don’t get accused of heresy.  This is a job posting in the sense that I’m looking for people’s input on what they think of the sermon, and it’s a job posting in another way in that this time around I’m preaching from Matthew 28:16-20, aka the great commission. I’ve got some thoughts that have been running through my head that I think are right but that I’ve never heard anyone say before.  Hooray, for maybe having an original thought again!  Most of the message is pretty straight forward, but I’m always looking for ways to make it better.  However, the section that is near the end of the sermon is the section I’m really looking for your input on.  I’ve highlighted it in blue and would love to get your take on it.  I won’t ruin the surprise or anticipation by telling you what it is.

Have at it and burn the sermon if the heresy factor is too high!  mt28v16to20draft

That’s right, I said it, “purple monkey brains”.  It has nothing to do with what I’m writing here but I figured it would likely get your attention quickly and maybe a few people to read this sermon before I preach it on Sunday.  In an effort to become better at what I do and to mine the depths of the souls and minds of those I know I’m prescreening my sermon here again.  The last one I did this for wound up with applause afterwards, so I’m counting on you to make this one good enough to deserve a standing ovation and maybe backflips.  Seriously though, if you have time and have some thoughts about it let me know and I’ll try to improve on what I’ve got here.

It’s been too long since I’ve had time to post here, and frankly I haven’t really had a useful original thought in about a week and a half here either.  I’ve been run off my feet with youth and family related events and I’m looking forward to the end of this weekend.

Anyways, here ya go: 1ptr2v2to10

I would have liked to have post this a couple days ago already, but I’ve been playing nurse-maid for my sick wife and son.  They only have colds, so it’s nothing serious, but we all need a little love and care when we’re sick so I’ve been doing my part.  Anyways, on to the main point here . . . my sermon about missing the point.

I made a couple of posts last week about my thoughts and sermonizings on the Emmaus road story from Luke (I just realized on Sunday I had misspelled it “Emaus” in all my posts sorry).  I was a little nervous about preaching it because I thought it may make some people angry.  Thanks again to all of you who gave me your input on the topic, it was all helpful in getting things finalized and ready to share with the church.  It’s only fair that I let you know how things went on Sunday to put your wandering minds to rest on the topic of the journey on Emmaus road.

Things went completely normal for the 25 minutes or so that I was speaking.  The got the jokes and I think they got the point on my sermon on missing the point.  Everything went well for 25 minutes, and then it got awkward . . . there were applause when I finished.  What do you do when people applaud when you’re finished?  I know from my experience singing in jazz groups and choirs that when you’re done and people applaud that you take a bow and walk off stage.  Preaching isn’t like a singing performance though . . . people don’t EVER clap when you’re done.  I don’t know what the precedent for this is.  I just kept walking off the platform and took my seat and the applause stopped pretty quickly.  What do you do in that situation?  It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just like I said: awkward.

So all that being said, I guess things went pretty well.  I haven’t received any angry anonymous letters yet, and I have got a few really positive comments and notes.  Not that these are the benchmarks for a good or bad sermon, but it certainly is nice when it happens.  I’m up again on April 20, so if you can let me know your thoughts on how to handle post-sermon applause in the next few days I can be prepared for a week and a half from now.

listening.jpgYa, I kind of ripped off Bill O’Reily’s tag line here, but really there’s not a lot of things in this world that are really original anyways.  We all get our thoughts from the compilations of what we’ver heard from other people.  With all that being said, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: pre-release a sermon.  Never in my life have I ever let anyone see a sermon of mine before I’ve preached it – not even my wife – but with all the interest that has been shown over the past few days about the sermon I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided that I will release it for public consumption and inspection before Sunday.  Feel free to read it, critique it, love it, hate it, steal it if you want to.  It’s out here now and free for the taking.  Let me know what you think.


lectionary-ses.jpgEver have one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” kind of moments?  That’s what I’m rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ my way through right now.  Before I explain my canundrum though let’s step into the wayback machine and travel about 6 months into the past.  The year is 2007.  The Boston Red Sox are preparing for the playoffs as the Evil Empire attempts to make a feeble final month rally to win the A.L. East, the Chicago Bears are naively talking about building on their solid 2006 season, and Rhianna’s “Umbrella” covers the airwaves as tearful drops of frustration soak the faces of real music fans everywhere.  Meanwhile, I’m at a staff meeting where we decide that it would be a really cool idea to try to follow the traditional church calendar for the next year and preach through the lectionary as we follow it.  It would be so great to not have to “hum and haw” over what to preach about next and just follow what the church has traditionally studied throughout it’s history.  It would give us ties to our roots, give our church a greater appreciation for the rich history our faith has, ensure we touch on all the main topics in the bible over the course of the year, and selfishly allow us to be somewhat subversive by Mennonite standards as we preach through the liturgical lectionary in a non-liturgical faith tradition.  Oh, what rebels we would be!

Well, it’s current day again now – January 2008 – and the thrills of rebellion have dimmed a bit as the realities of preaching through the lectionary have set in.  It hasn’t been all bad by any means, the last couple passages I got handed I actually worked with reasonably well, but this time is a desperate struggle.  I realize that I haven’t personally given birth to a child yet, but I think this process has been similarly painful as I attempt to give birth to this message that right now feels like a pair of 16lb. breach twins – duty and necessity – being delivered “naturally”.

I’m preaching on Sunday and the process of preparing for it has been extremely trying.  I’m supposed to be preaching from John 1:29-42.  You know the passage where John declares Jesus to be the “Lamb of God” after he hears the voice of God and sees the dove rest upon Jesus.  He then goes on to declare Jesus as the “Lamb of God” to Andrew and Peter and they decide to follow Jesus as their Messiah.  It’s not that this story isn’t important, but I’m just not so sure what I’m supposed to do to “preach” it other than just read it as it is.  Unfortunately just reading it as it is only takes about 1-2 minutes and that would leave our service ending far too early, and some may suspect that I’m just wrapping things up early so I can watch the NFL playoffs pregame show.  I could go into some deep study about the historical and theological signifigance of the name “Lamb of God”, but really, that’s not likely to change anyone’s life or even interest many of them.  I couldn’t even blame them for being bored and sleepy if I were to break out a message like that.  The angle I’m running with right now is the “where/how do we find God”.  John struggled with recognizing Jesus as God until it was supernaturally revealed to him, and it took John pointing Jesus out to Andrew and Peter before they caught on.  Similarly, different people “find God” in a lot of different and weird ways and we need to be open to accepting and experiencing them ourselves; looking for God in unusual places.  I’m not totally appauled with this angle on the passage, but I certainly don’t feel good or excited about it either.  It feels kind of contrived.

The real shame in all of this is that preaching – studying and figuring out how to effectively share what I learned with others – which used to be one of my greatest loves has now become a somewhat odious task.  I’m not passionate about preaching this passage.  It doesn’t really touch anything in me.  I feel somewhat disingenuous standing up and preaching this message with conviction when I don’t really have a whole lot of conviction about it myself.  If being a preacher were just a job and you just had to be a convincing public speaker to do it, I think I could do this passage some justice.  After a hundred plus sermons under my belt I know how to deliver a message, but to me preaching is about baring something of myself and sharing it with others.  I’m not so sure I’m at that point with this sermon.  It just doesn’t resonate.  It just isn’t sitting right.

So, I guess the lesson to be learned is the old proverb “the grass is always greener on the other side”.  Preaching the lectionary sounds great for the reasons I listed before, but it can be real handcuff too when the passages you’re “tied to” don’t really seem to have much to them.  Which, when I think about it, is a real shame because God’s word through the Bible has such a great story to tell.

Well, I guess I better get some sleep so I can finish off that sermon tomorrow.  If only I could really hop in that wayback machine so I could make a cake with the key to these homiletical handcuffs in it and send it care of “me”.  That way I could spend this time bemoaning the fact that I’m not sure what to preach instead of I’m not sure how to preach it.