Sunday, February 20, 2011

What it is like to deliver a sermon

It's Sunday night. I'm tired and ready for rest. But the day has been good, and I am so grateful for the honor of what I do.

Most people look forward to Friday night as the end of a week of work. I look forward to this night, even though tomorrow is a work day. Sunday is the day of sermon delivery, and unless you've spent several years delivering weekly sermonic offspring, you probably can't understand.

Delivery is a Good Word for It
When it comes to sermons, delivery is a good word for how they are given. Sermons are not spoken. They are not merely read. And sermons are not presented. Sermons are delivered. Like children are delivered.

They hurt while they form inside of you. They can make you feel sick. They make you doubt your ability to produce them. They stretch and push the limits of the bone and sinew of your soul. Sermons are not mere speeches written and read. They are life, formed within you, then they pass through you at great personal pain.

Birth-Like
Yet a well delivered sermon can leave you full of joy. When those to whom you speak truly receive your offspring, there is a great sense of obedience.

But always, the process humbles and forces one to plead for assistance. There are never lonelier moments than those of the sermon giver going to the place of delivery. No one can understand. No one.

And when the last words are shoved out of your spirit, leaving you fatigued--even after a seemingly quiet and peaceful delivery, there is nothing sweeter than rest. And a little bit of revelry in the fact that you will not do this again for another seven days.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hardly know how to respond to that, even though I can imagine that it is truth. I know it can't be like a speech, it has to come from the soul, which is what makes it so difficult. Please know that the work that is put into a message or sermon is needed and appreciated by the listeners! As a listener, sometimes the words make us uncomfortable so we can't wait for it to end and to get home to our Sunday dinner. Sometimes it inspires us to do something of worth in the following days. Sometimes it might seem ill-prepared and the end can't come too quickly. But when the Word of God is presented, there is always an effect on the listener and know it is worth the pain of preparation and delivery. maryg

Andrew said...

David, I am learning the difficulty of the week-in week-out delivery of the sermon. I think you just put into words, better than I could, what I have been feeling/realizing. Delivering a sermon is draining. I have come to appreciate the words of wisdom from theology school professors who (almost) commanded us to make sure to feed ourselves and take a sabbath. I suppose if it weren't draining, or weren't hard work, we wouldn't be very faithful to the people or to the Lord.

david said...

Thank you Maryg and Andrew. Two different and encouraging responses to this post. The key, Mary is truly the Word that is being presented. It will not return without bringing effect. Perhaps it is the responsibility for such a task that so intimidates.

Andrew, I remember the early days in my preaching. I resented the title "preacher." I thought, we are so much more than that. The longer I'm at it however, that old-fashioned term is fairly adequate. Of all the things we do, none is more vital or taxing. Stay faithful to that sabbath and to your feeding your own soul. There can be no substitute. My recent sabbatical caught me up on feeding and restored what was a hopelessly depleted soul.

Hoff said...

David,

Great analogy/thoughts. I am no longer in the business of delivering life on a weekly basis to the Church - but I vividly remember the feeling of exhaustion after giving birth to that which was inside me. I remember talking to you about communion being very similar, if not more draining on the spirit. It was not the week of preparation, but the desire to give the blessing in a real way that would leave them different after celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I very much appreciate your gift to give the life you have received to those you lead. All the more reason to celebrate and accept the gift that God gave us in the command to observe the sabbath.....

wish I was at m11 with you, having the chance to sit and debrief ministry together