Sunday, December 6, 2009

Before Washington

Time has raced by. I last posted my apprehension about my "big preach" at the Academy of Homiletics in Washington D.C. In the blur of the following days three things happened:
  • I preached last Monday to my class. One end session was open in the preaching lab after hearing two students. So I gave the class my sermon work on Isa 52:1-10 called News Bringers (designed to fit in with the Academy theme: Preaching and the News!). Beforehand I would have said it was about 60% OK. But as I preached, it began to unravel! Honestly! It sounded flat, disconnected and without flow. I always challenge my students to "test for sound" but this was a very public test with embarrassing results. The students proved very insightful - pointing out weaknesses and suggesting improvements. One thanked me for being willing to be vulnerable....and I was. But, of course, I really thought the sermon was already fairly well developed. I guess I now knew I had about 40% OK.
  • That night and between teaching and grading the next two days I refocused the sermon, praying that there might be life, connection and flow - put there by God. I believe sermon preparation is a spiritual task and I prayed hard that the shortness of time left would not compromise quality.
  • Getting on the plane, Wednesday, with a new sermon, I thought how very appropriate it all was. I was going to preach to a galaxy of preachers, but through openness and trust before my own students I had been led to deeper places of dependency. Preachers need the prayers and support of others, and willingness to work hard with God's Holy Spirit!

Next, I'll tell you what happened at Washington.

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