Planning Week

This has been a rather unusual week for me.

I am returning from vacation which is always an interesting experience. I’m wired in a way which makes changing gears a bit difficult. When I leave for vacation it takes me bit to unwind and enjoy myself 1. When I return from vacation my body sometimes has a difficult time re-acclimating to a set schedule. As such, I typically drag a bit my first week back.

What makes this week even more unusual is I am not preaching this coming Sunday. Typically, this is the one thing which helps jumpstart me back into my normal rhythm. The art of preparing my sermons is what I utilize to create my weekly balance. With that element of my week being absent I’m finding myself a bit more restless than usual.

Now, if I didn’t want to be ethical, I suppose I could have just seen this as an extra week-off and sat around in my PJ’s all day 2. I’m not wired to behave that way, so I had to find something productive to do. Which is what I did.

Pre-sermon prep

On a skip week I often like to work ahead in my sermons. This typically means translating three or four weeks ahead and beginning to make notes on the texts from which I will be preaching. Having this material prepared in advance is an immense help with the sermon writing process. This week has been strange because I haven’t felt “geared” correctly to do much translating. I’m starting to feel the pull toward Accordance, however, so this is probably how I’m going to spend some significant time tomorrow.

Discipleship pondering

I finished up my fall book study in December, so I’m on the lookout for a book to read throughout Lent. I’ve got a couple in mind, so I began reading one of these today 3, The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle. I’m not sure this book will fit for our Lenten study, but I’m certainly enjoying the first chapter!

The other options for Lent are The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. The latter is among my favorite theological narratives, but The Screwtape Letters is intriguing.

Revisiting Sermons

A friend on Facebook posted a request for book suggestions which covers “Christian perspectives on US Government and the Church/Kingdom of God.” This led me to ponder a sermon series which I wrote back in 2008 entitled Kingdom Collision.

I’ve actually been wanting to revisit those sermons for a few years, and this unusual week afforded me to opportunity to begin the process. I went back into my archives and began reworking my sermon outlines into a more readable format in a new Scrivener project. Eventually, I’ll work the manuscripts into a eBook. Because, you know, I’m not doing enough writing.


Since I didn’t have to worry about blocking out hours to write a sermon this week I was able to do some more significant visiting – both in person and over the phone. Visiting is not something for which I’m naturally gifted 4. It is, however, something to which I’m called, so I work at it.

During unusual weeks like this one I find myself using my social energy allotment to reach out a bit more broadly than normal. This is good, because this week there was a rather broad scope of visiting needs which had to be addressed. I’ll be taking care of some more visitation tomorrow, and then I might hide a cubby for a few days.

Additionally, during skip weeks like this one I find myself being more deliberate with prayer. Requests are coming in, and sticking in my consciousness much more easily than during a more “normal” week 5. There’s only so much information I can process at a given time, with the absence of extra “noise” I feel I can actually focus in prayer.

Planning ahead

It’s nice to have a week off from preaching because it affords me the opportunity to reach out and begin the process of looking forward. With 2016 gaining steam it’s important to try to get my feet under me now. I don’t like feeling as though I’ve been run over.

So this week I sent out some email-storms and pondered some potential avenues upon which to walk this year. This is always a fun exercise.

So, that’s what I did this unusual week – and I still don’t really feel like I’m fully returned from being off!

  1. This is one reason we almost always vacation in Williamsburg. There’s something about the pace of life there which helps me relax. 
  2. Aside from my internal ethical compass, this really wasn’t an option. My wife, who went back to teaching this week, probably would have made me sleep outside had I tried that. 
  3. I always read the books on which I lead a study beforehand. 
  4. Hello, introvert
  5. During a “normal” week, there are too many “shiny” things around.