I am not sure if people are ever curious about the preparation that someone like me puts in for a sermon/talk or not, but I thought it might be fun to flush it out here. I imagine the process is different for everyone. But for me, it always seems to vary between a few options. Sometimes it is as easy as pulling out a text that is familiar and that I have preached on before. Sometimes I even have the old notes to accompany it. For a while it was even fun to follow the lectionary* and feel like a part of something greater (This also helped because the text was supplied for you in a fun multiple choice array). I have never been a big fan of the dart board method…opening the Bible pointing then preaching just doesn’t seem that genuine. I am pretty sure I have never employed this method. For me, the most meaningful times of opening the text for others have always been when God is working with me on the same text.
It’s kind of fun how these portions of scripture come to you. It’s almost like a conversation with the Divine and the humane. As life is lived both with God and man it is almost as if God speaks through your encounters with him and with other people. I have heard people refer to God’s speaking into these situations as “a little whisper” or “a little nudge”. These Divine promptings always seem to come at around the same time as well. I think about it this way; when you are walking arm-in-arm with someone it is very easy for them to gently nudge you or even whisper something to you. I am pretty sure that neither of these things are accomplished at great distances. It’s almost as if the text from John 15:4 comes to life here, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.(I actually like the wording in the King James better, “Abide in me”)” You can’t be in step with what God is saying to you and speaking into your life unless you are closely in step with God. I know that seems redundant, but it is so true. The more harmony in my life between God, others and myself the more I hear His whisper speaking into the everyday…the more I feel His nudge guiding me into His word for me and for others.
It really is that easy and yet sometimes that hard. Sometimes it is easier to be present for myself alone. But the life that is lived when I am completely present for God and for others is truly life in the fullest. So I seek to be fully present in the moments I am given. I am attentive to God’s word and I lean in closely for that little nudge. Then all of a sudden the text that I seek to prepare for others has already been prepared for me. And giving my words over to God becomes that much easier. After all, they were already His…
* The lectionary can be simply defined as a list or book of portions of the Bible appointed to be read at a church service. It is usually used among higher liturgy churches such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches. For more information please visit: http://www.lectionarypage.net/