Sometimes, nothing can be more upsetting than when God is active in your life….
Like this past Sunday. Pentecost Sunday, where we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s introduction to the church. I knew all week that I’d have to preach, so I did more or less what I normally do to prepare. And when I was finished, I had what I more or less normally have: a sermon that is 7-8 pages typed, double space in Times New Roman 12 point font. Even though I’ve had enough rehearsal and training that it doesn’t sound like I’m reading, I pretty much get up in the pulpit and read them my sermon word for word. For about the first 50 sermons I’ve done as a pastor, I’ve been a manuscript preacher. I like the manuscript.
A manuscript makes the length of the presentation predictable. I know that if I’ve written more than 2600 words, the sermon will start to be too long.
Also, manuscripts leave me with a nice record of the work I’ve done. I knew a preacher who had a desk drawer full of sermons–hundreds of them. Only problem was, they were all just vague concepts scribbled down so hurriedly not even he could read them all. Preaching is my craft, so I want to be able to go back and revisit and reuse the work I’ve done when appropriate.
So this Sunday, I had a great Pentecost sermon ready to print, but I didn’t have any paper at the house. So, I emailed it to myself and saved it on my trusty jump drive to print at church.
Got to church, and the jump drive wouldn’t work–tried it on 3 computers. Went to the email, and the attachment wouldn’t open….
So, after 12 hours of working on my final product, I’m at church without it, 20 minutes to showtime.
“Fruck!” I thought to myself.
Then I remembered, “God doesn’t make mistakes, this is happening for a reason.”
The “FRUCK!” thought came back over me. How am I supposed to preach without a sermon? No time to go back home and get it.
“Well, it isPentecost, so I guess I’ll just have to rely on the Spirit,” I decided. The funny thing is, that’s what preachers are always supposed to do, and that’s what I typically do, but not to the extent that I had to last Sunday. I guess in the end, it was for the best. I think I managed to remember most of the points I had prepared, plus I made a stronger connection with the congregation than usual.
My way with words makes my manuscripts great, but powerful preaching actually has very little to do with eloquence.
The sermon topic: “I Didn’t Know You Had it in You”.
Now I know.