Christmas is one of the most difficult and rewarding times to preach. I tweeted a few weeks ago that preparing for a Christmas series is like covering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird: Every one’s heard it, and if you mess it up it’s awful. :-) If you’re interested, here’s the stages of sermon planning I go through every week as I prepare for actionchurch.
Sunday afternoon- Regret. I usually spend Sunday afternoon on my couch. I think about all the stuff I wish I would have said…and regret the stuff I should not have.
Monday: Denial. Mondays are my day off, so even though I may read through the scriptures for the upcoming week I usually try tp pretend that Sunday is months away.
Tuesday: Terror. Tuesday is the day it usually hits me that Sunday is indeed NOT months away…and I have absolutely nothing valuable to say.
Wednesday: Prayer/Bargaining Wednesday I finally give up on trying to think of something clever to preach and begin some serious prayer that God would allow the Holy Spirit to show me ANYTHING that would be useful for the folks who show up Sunday to hear. Many times I promise that if God will help me, I will never (insert sin of the day) again.
Thursday: Struggle: On Thursday morning I pitch my Sermon to Josiah over breakfast in our “pancakes and production” meeting. I attempt to convince him that not only do I HAVE the sermon planned…it’s actually been ready for months. :-) The rest of the day I read the scripture of the week countless times and struggle to put the questions and thoughts that the scripture raises in a semi logical order. (This process feels like dumping numerous jigsaw puzzles on a table and trying to use them to construct an ipod.)
Friday: Clarity. I know that God is merciful and kind because of Fridays. Early Friday morning I turn in my slides for the upcoming Sunday. Each week I am amazed as the weeks events, struggles, and failures gather on my screen to form another sermon. I can’t tell you how genuinely surprised and grateful I feel as I realize that I do indeed have something of value to share with the church I love.
Saturday-Sunday 11am: Rehearsal/Excitement. I spend hours Saturday as I work and early Sunday morning rehearsing the Sermon. At this point of the week I am genuinely excited because I am CERTAIN that this is the best sermon I have ever preached and it will instantly change the life of anyone who hears it. I can’t wait until Sunday!
Sunday 11:16 to 11:47ish: I get the great responsibility and honor of sharing the Love,word, and power of the living God with folks who have gathered at actionchurch. (About five minutes in I realize that this is in fact NOT the “best sermon ever preached” :-), but those few minutes on Sunday still feel like what I was created to do.) In those few minutes, all of the work, struggle, and pain, of the previous week are “so worth it”. Thanks so much for showing up and putting the teachings of scripture into action!
Sunday afternoon: Regret.