Friday, August 29, 2008

The dark art of sermon preparation

Finished preparing for Sunday - and strangely it was like pulling teeth. This morning I felt really muddled-headed and unable to concentrate. But the grey matter started to clear after lunch.

I have focused on three aspects of the story of Zacchaeus that are Lucan favourites - finance, family and faith (remember I still carry the DNA of an unreconstructed evangelical baptist about my person!) - and I think it works ok.

Sermon preparation is still something of a mystery to me. Earlier in the week, I was feeling pretty chilled, on top of the passage and knowing generally what I wanted to say. Today, I looked at a blank screen and wondered if the passage would ever reveal its treasures.

Then suddenly it takes shape - first in my mind and then, through my fingers, on the screen. And it seems to come in a flash. One moment there's nothing, then there's a page of relatively coherent notes, then there's a worksheet and an edited version of the notes. And before I know it, I'm having a cup of tea, putting the finishing touches to the PowerPoint wondering where it all comes from.

Of course, a sermon's not really finished until it's been preached because, after all, this is an oral art form not a written one. So I don't know whether it's any good yet... But then, when are we are able to assess that - as we deliver it? As people comment immediately afterwards? Weeks later when an echo of what was said turns up in conversation or a question or an email?

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