In other places I have written (at length) about the process of sermon conception - how the choice of text and theme happens. For the majority of world preachers the choice is set by lectionary readings. But for many of us in other traditions the choosing is open (and more complicated!)
C.H. Spurgeon wrote about the great difficulty in obtaining texts because of the embarrassing riches of Scripture: 'I confess that I frequently sit hour after hour praying and waiting for a subject and that is the main part of my study' (Lectures to my students VI). The main part of my study?! Could it be that demanding? Certainly, there should be a spiritual struggle when faced by an blank page on which anything might happen and particular hungry sheep need to be fed! And he had an awesome national presence!
These last few weeks I have been faced by an unusual blank page. I need to plan out a mini-series of six sermons to preach in Yorkminster Church in the heart of Toronto during the first weeks of July. The temptation to raid my sermon store and select some past sermons that seemed to 'work' is always strong. I remember hearing one itinerant preacher who said he had preached his star sermon well over 100 times! Actually, I heard it and can still remember its powerful message - so there can sometimes be value to repeating good stuff. That option, of course, is only open to the traveling preacher.
However, I also know how vital it is to be freshly committed to listening to new words from God if I am to be fresh on this occasion. So I have been struggling....turning all kinds of possibilities over and praying that some might come alight. I'll share more in my next post.