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Sunday, February 13, 2005
wrestling to prepare
This past week I got to try out my "preparation" theory when I preached in Chapel at the seminary. I struggled like never before to arrive at a finished manuscript. It just never got finished. I studied, prayed and pondered the text for months. I wrote ideas-- revisions-- for weeks. In the final days leading up to the sermon I attempted to simply spend time before God in adoration-- in seeking to behold the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And I asked him to help me have real love for the people to whom I would be preaching. My focus got real and refreshingly simple.

As I began the sermon I remember looking down on the pulpit and seeing only the small frame of my Bible and kind of chuckling under my breath-- like "What have I done!" I felt kind of lost throughout the sermon. I felt like the 4 year old who drove his parents car to the video store at 1:30am-- hitting two cars and a policeman along the way. I sensed that I was connecting with people as I preached, but I did not feel in control of the message at any point. I was unable to close the message-- we simply called people to pray together in small groups.

Anyhow-- I have received more authentic, affirming feedback on that sermon than any other I have preached. It is beginning to confirm to me how upside down my notions of preaching have been. Before it was oriented around coming up with something insightful to say, being a master of the material, getting it right, and impressively communicating. The new paradigm: I am on a journey to be prepared to be out of control. It is about studying and seeking and its about adoration and love. . . . . .


posted by John David Walt | at 2/13/2005 11:14:00 PM



Blogger + Alan said...

Good stuff man! Very cool. I wish I would have been there. Great Peace to you who are out of control.

12:34 AM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

I used to have a complete manuscript, then went to outline, then to basic points/stepping stones. Now, I have the text. During the week I think on it, pray over it, sleep on it and Sunday I get up and speak and it preaches itself as the words come out...very out of control, and yet, very cool.

3:59 PM EST  
Blogger clave said...

I'm penciled in to speak on the 13th...dare I dabble in this unpredictable madness you speak of???

10:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

Yes I am in the blogosphere too. Anyway, I tend to understand what you are getting at. A few weeks ago now I really labored during my sermon prep the week before that Sunday's message. In fact I wrote two sermons. I had had another text in the back of my mind all week that I thought would work. To make along story short, as I approached the platform, I thanked the lector for reading the assingened Scripture and then asked the congregation to open their bibles to another text and moved through it with absolutely NO manuscript. I have never done that before. I can feel the power of your metaphor, and like you I was overwhelemed with compliments on that particular sermon. I too felt as though I connected with the congregation in way that I hadnt ever previously. I think you're on to something. its not ONLY about the physical preparation. We must spend time in adoration as well, dare I suggest thta this must be the one thing that we bring to any exegesis of the text.

3:14 PM EST  

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