Thursday, February 26, 2009

This week's sermon
  • Step four: avoid writing
  • Okay, the text is picked. The research is done. The bulletin information has been turned in . . .

    Now it's time to write that sermon.

    But first, I need to clean my office.

    And update my church's website to NetAdventist v. 3.

    And since I've found my missing copies of Christian Counter-Culture and The Cost of Discipleship, I really need to read what they say about Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-18 before I begin.

    In truth, the hardest part of writing a sermon is sitting down to do it -- and to avoid that, I will do anything (up to and including re-shelving all the books now decorating the floor of my office).

    Fortunately, I've developed some rituals to ease me into the process.

    First, I re-read the text.

    Second, I pray.

    Third, I set up the page-heading for this week's sermon -- in this case, it looks like this:

    SER 2009 FEBRUARY 28 – Matthew 6 (1-18)
    Nestucca & Lincoln City SDA Churches
    Psalm 94; Hebrews 6:10 (1187)
    Nestucca: Hymn # 435 “The Glory Song”
    Lincoln City: Hymn #421 “For All the Saints”

    This does three things:
    1. It makes me write something on paper (which is a start).
    2. It gives me the information I'll need for the bulletin if I preach this sermon again.
    3. And if the person who was supposed to photocopy the bulletin doesn't show up, I've a ready-made order of service.
    Fourth, I sit down with a yellow legal-pad and write a one-page summary of the text and it's meaning.

    That done, I turn the text inside-out, i.e. I imagine Jesus had said the exact opposite of what he did. In this case, that would be something like this:
    "If you're going to worship God, be sure that you do so where people will notice what you're doing. You never really know if God is watching, after all -- much less if He will reward you for what you've done -- so you might as well make sure you get some benefit, if only to your reputation!"

    Now there's a thought! What about all those people who who do good things, even though nobody notices what they do -- the parents of small children, for instance, or church members who care for their parents at home?

    Mulling over that gives me a thesis -- or at least, a proto-thesis. Granted, it will get polished as I write, but for now, I can go with this idea: "God is all the audience you need."

    Hmmm -- and that reminds me of Greg Mortenson's story in Three Cups of Tea -- the one where he was trying to raise money for a girl's school, but only a handful of people showed up for his lecture, and he was so discouraged until he discovered . . .

    Now where did I put my copy of that book?

    Tomorrow: Grinding out the sermon.

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