Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Wrestling Match
Some sermons seem to literally fly off the keyboard and onto the computer monitor. The words come more quickly than the fingers are able to type them. The room seems filled with inspiration. Thoughts flow logically and persuasively. Taking such sermons to the pulpit is exciting. There is a special sense of anticipation that is a part of the worship service and the act of preaching. With such a sermon ready to preach, I find myself thinking, "I can't wait to see what God is going to do with this one."
But, there are other times when preparing to preach is more like a wrestling match. No matter how many times I try to get it up off the floor, it keeps getting slammed back at me. The keyboard keys are like strangers. I have no idea which ones to touch. The thoughts not only fail to come with any logic; they fail to come at all. I find myself just sitting there and when I finally do get started, it is a struggle from beginning to end. Some would say I have not prayed enough. Sometimes this is true. Some might say I have not thought through the goal and purpose of the sermon. This, too, has happened. Sometimes I start out not sure where I am going which is not a good way to write a sermon. Some would say the struggle speaks of Satan trying to hinder the proclamation of a Word he does not want preached. Sometimes such does need to be considered. The scripture makes it clear he desires to undermine what God is about in our lives. Some might say the struggle is about physical laziness or mental weariness. Knowing me as I do, both are always possibilities.
Regardless of the reason, getting ready to preach this past week has been like a wrestling match. When I finished, there was more relief than anticipation. For the preacher Sunday morning's appointment is not an option to meet if you feel like it, but one that must be met whether or not you feel like you are ready to go. Fortunately, the delivery or the preaching of the sermon was not as bad as the writing it. There have been times when the act of preaching only seemed like Round 2. I am thankful today's preaching was different. I am thankful that when it was done there was a sense that God had brought blessing despite or through my struggling effort.
(A printed copy of this sermon and the one preceding it in the series can be read at http://www.rhumc.com/. Click on "About Us" and go to sermons.)