This has been a tough week for my sermon-writing. Thursday I wrote my first draft on the passage for the week and didn’t feel right about it. I chewed on it overnight and decided to re-write it on Friday, and I absolutely hated it. I felt the kind of visceral, “This must never be seen by anyone” hate with which writers can be plagued. I’ve never felt that about one of my sermons before, it was an odd experience.
Friday afternoon I tried to switch gears completely and make a video introducing the concept of wisdom literation which would serve as a launching point for an inductive conversation on the passage. I gave up two-thirds of the way through. Nothing fit.
So I texted a friend in Church 1 and he asked about the text for the week. I responded, “James 5:1-12” and then continued to stew in my frustration. Several minutes later he replied, “Oh my! There’s nothing new in there.”
It was like a lightbulb went off. The reason I didn’t have anything to say on the passage is because we’ve been working through James and every one of the points in those verses had already been covered. I was frustrated because I knew I was just repeating myself. It was a wonderful realization, but it didn’t offer me a way forward. How on earth was I supposed to preach on a passage for which I had nothing to say?
As usual, my wife slapped me out of my conundrum. As I recounted my struggles to her Friday afternoon she said, “Well, why not just skip the passage and move on?”
There are times when I really am an idiot.
So, even though it meant starting from Scratch on Saturday morning, I skipped the passage. I spent the first part of Saturday translating James 5:13-20, writing out some notes, and organizing my thoughts. After spending a splendid afternoon with my wife and son, I sat down in the evening and pounded out a little over a 1200 word sermon. The grammar is probably terrible, and I’ll likely trim it down significantly in the morning, but I can honestly say, “this’ll preach.”
The greatest part of this process isn’t how “awesome” I am for daring to scrap my sermon and make more work for myself on Saturday. It’s how much I needed my community to bring me to that point. It’s a terrific example of the value of the Church body.
- Thanks Larry. ↩