Today I had to remember to take time to breathe. Life can be overwhelming, intimidating, “too much”. It’s true. So it’s okay to take time for yourself, slow down, and just breathe. Remember who you are, remember your values, and find that place of love inside of you and operate from it. A friend shared this picture with me today, and it was a good grounding point for me this afternoon:
One step at a time. One task at a time. One thing at a time. You will get there, just breathe.
Preaching is definitely not something that comes easily to me. I love the prep work that goes along with creating a sermon (okay, religion nerd here) but the delivery and topic choice is not something that I can do on the fly. It takes me months to get ready. This is why I’m thankful when my boss gives me lots of advanced notice when he has a date available for me to preach. Here’s a little of what my process looks like:
- It starts with prayer. Prayer is often where I start in many things in my life. It’s how I start my day, it’s how I start my meals, it’s how I start figuring out major decisions in my life, and it’s how I start my sermons. I ask God for direction, to help me identify a starting point: maybe a theme, maybe a title, maybe a scripture. It may start with prayer but that doesn’t complete the role of prayer. It continues all the way through to me thanking God for a successful sharing of my sermon.
- Next is the scripture. I am of the opinion that scripture is the driving force behind a sermon. Sure, you may be addressing world events, or happenings within your congregation. But the scripture is what helps you determine how to approach those occurrences. After the scripture(s) is(are) selected, I dig into it. What does it say to me? What is the time and place of the scripture? What do I remember from my Religion Course in college about this time, place and scripture? What words pop off of the page elements I need to pay attention to as I write and preach?
- And then I write. Sometimes this is just to get basic ideas on paper. It may end up being stream of consciousness that I later pare down. It could be well developed paragraphs, or stories, or other pieces that I want to research more.
- I write, and edit, and move things around. This part of the process means the sermon takes lots of different forms. I print my initial draft, mark it up with a colorful pen. And then go back to the electronic copy to make the changes. And then I print that copy, mark it up, and the process continues through that cycle 3-4 times. I read it out loud, and I read it in my head, and sometimes I have someone else read it too. And then I get to the “final draft” or the draft that gets used on Sunday morning.
If you are interested in hearing this week’s sermon, you can follow the link below. I really enjoyed this week’s sermon. I was able to add elements that shook things up a little (children reading scripture, and video faith talks, and car talk talk back questions). I’m thankful for a community that allows me to share with them, one that offers supportive high-fives and hugs, and one that laughs with me when I totally botch the Proclamation of the Good News after sharing communion. Listen Here Feel free to let me know what you think.