Last month I preached the first sermon I ever had real reservations about. At 11:30PM the night before I finally had to put it to rest and say “it is enough.” Inspiration was hard to come by and I was having a hard time allowing myself to rest in the preparations. I spent the whole week thinking about the passages and I feel like my heart had a direction that it wasn’t communicating to my mind. I preached and experienced another first: my first ever coffee-hour sermon dissection. An intelligent and faithful woman asked me if I would like some constructive criticism and I invited it. She proceeded to articulately point out the shortfalls of my sermon as well as to offer advice for where I could have expanded. I took it all in and tried to remember to take it constructively. It stung. Although I was not particularly proud of the words I delivered, I wanted everyone else to feel fed. I felt as though I had failed.
Reflecting on it over the past few weeks I have embraced the opportunity embedded in this experience. I was disappointed in myself but I have to remember that I cannot hit every single sermon out of the park. In addition, I cannot expect to please all people even if I preach the best sermon of my life. I need to balance my expectations of myself. But, I need also to learn to ask for help sooner in the process when I need it. I wish I had structured my preparation time differently. I wish I had invited conversation with peers before the full introspective examination of the verses. I wish I had breathed more. I am proud of the beginning of my sermon. I was authentically myself in the beginning but then it just unraveled.
I am excited to start preparation for my next sermon. I am preaching at the end of the month on the passage where Jesus teaches the disciples to pray the Lord’s prayer. I need Jesus to teach me to pray right now… to give me the words when all of my own words escape me. I want to be okay with hearing a friend say, “To tell you the truth, I was disappointed with your sermon.” I want to trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit to meet me where I am and to help me in the process of writing but for them to find the space I must structure my time properly. Come, Holy Spirit.
There’s much I to do in the coming weeks, the most important of which is to breathe.
Breathe on me, Breath of God
Fill me with Life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
In Christ’s Immeasurable and Indescribable Love,