Sunday, May 8, 2011
Anyone who knows much about my preaching preparation knows it has always included preaching to empty pews. No, not on Sunday morning. Certainly, there were those Sunday mornings when more pews were empty than filled, but the reference to "empty pew preaching" has to do with Saturday night. Preaching is a form of verbal communication and it always seemed important to me to finish my preaching preparation by preaching the sermon several times to empty pews.
Retirement has put me in a different world. As I go to the Rocky Ford Church each Sunday, I find myself once again in a preaching ministry. Since the church is ten miles away from our home, going up to do practice preaching is a bit difficult. Some kind folks might say that after 39 years of preaching, I could let the practice go, but they would be wrong. For me it is still important for more reasons than I have room to enumerate here. So, in lieu of a sanctuary, I go out of the house to a pecan shaded place between our blueberry patch and the garden. Using a black wrought iron table as a pulpit, I preach my sermon to any of God's creatures that might pause to listen.
This new place I use to practice my preaching is a different kind of sanctuary. In the brick and mortar ones where I practised my preaching, I was always aware of the symbols and signs of the holy all around me. What I have discovered in this new place is that it, too, is filled with signs of the holy. Indeed. They abound!