I've done my sermon prep, but....
February 6, 2010
Maybe it's something to do with the friends I have on Facebook, but some of them are very keen to let the world know the point in the week when they have completed their sermon preparation. I think I know what they are saying: they have reached the point where they are satisfied that all they can do at a human level in preparation for preaching the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has been done. They've read all they can, written all they can, planned all they can, and manuscripted all they are going to. Pulpit, here I come....
Maybe there is something utterly and fundamentally wrong with me (sin, perhaps?) but I'm not prepared at any stage before I start preaching to say that I've done my prep; and nor am I prepared at any stage after I finish to say that I did all I could have. The more I preach, the less adequate I am for it, and the more the conviction grows that there is much, much more I should have put in to that sermon.
But even if I do feel, at a human level, that I am adequately prepared for Sunday, what do I do if I have a burning conviction in the vestry five minutes before the service God wants me to say something different, and that I should preach on something other than the material I've been preparing? It surely belongs to the romance of preaching that God is doing more preparing than we ever can, not only of the sermon but of the preacher too. As I type this on a Saturday night, I realise that what God intends me to preach tomorrow may be very different to what I, at this moment, intend to preach. He is able to provide a sermon in an instant, and I should be open to the terrifying fact that what I have in front of me at the moment is making Heaven laugh.
That doesn't take away from my responsibility to prepare well. It just means that I need to learn that a sermon isn't ready until it's preached.
Sorry - it's not over until it is put into practice.
Happy Lord's Day, heralds of the kingdom!