Sunday, October 9, 2011

Flying without a net

I am learning much about being a priest in this new place I call home.  My homiletics professor pushed me to move away from the manuscript saying I needed to connect more with my audience.  I was stubborn enough to believe he was wrong and have held on to my manuscript as a life raft for the last three years.

This last week saw me take three trips to Nashville, two to Murfreesboro, and one to Sewanee in three days.  Added into the mix was some difficult news, an overwhelming schedule, a body that has its own time frame, and a set of readings that were enough to have seasoned preachers want to hide in a cave.  

As I sat down to begin putting thoughts onto paper, nothing would come.  I prayed in front of my computer and kept hearing silence.  A good story came to mind, but a story by itself is not a sermon.

I continued the disciplines I use to help me craft a sermon and still nothing came.  I prayed to have something to say worth being heard as the Holy Spirit revealed what the people in this place needed to hear from me at this time.   

Last night as my body ached and my eyes drooped, it was clear I was not to put a manuscript together.  Me, the one who triple checks even the most minor of details before each service.  I was reminded of a classmate who would say, "I got nothin'."  That was where I was. Yet fear was absent.

As I walked away from the computer, I heard in that still small place, "The words will come."  As tired as I was, I let it go and laid my tired body down.

This morning as I awoke the anxiety that often comes with Sunday morning was absent.  I sat down with my Bible and a piece of paper.  An outline came as did the peace that passes understanding.

Twice I delivered a sermon today after praying, listening, and remembering the words really do not belong to me, but rather to this incredible God who calls, who blesses, who breaks, and who gives as we respond.

I guess my homiletics professor may have been right after all as the people who received today's words shared they heard just what they needed to hear, connected with the parable in a new way, shed tears needing shedding, and felt the nudge that comes with the Holy Spirit making us uncomfortable enough to get out of the pew and do something.

All this to say that professors and God are much wiser than I and yet leaves the question of what I do with this thing called a blog and for those who cannot make it to church.  I am not vain enough to think people come here because something I said was so riveting they needed to see it after hearing it once.  So pray with me as I move forward without a net.  Pray that I continue to listen to that still small voice, that I am obedient to the (huge) nudge to be brave, and that I figure out what I do with this space.  

Most importantly, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to this God to whom I bow the knee of my heart and give all that I have and all that I am to in thanksgiving for the precious gift of new life I have been given.

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