All week long a bluesy refrain has been playing in my head that goes something like, "... I don't WANT to write a sermon this week." I think one of the verses even included the line, "... and YOU can't make me do it either, baby!" At first, I chose to ignore this tune ~ and I now have 6 or 7 half written manuscripts to prove it ~ but the chorus kept building and adding other instruments making resistance futile. By week's end, not only was my soul singing, "I don't want to write a sermon" but my body, heart and mind had joined the band playing all the back-up instruments. So, I made a hand-written outline of my major ideas like a tentative set-list and joined in the refrain adding: I REALLY don't want to WRITE a sermon this week!
Clearly it is the writing part that is at the root of my angst: it is not that I don't want to be in worship ~ I do ~ and its not that I don't have some thoughts to share with the community about scripture and our life together in God's grace. ~ I have those, too. I just don't have any energy, verve or facility for writing things down this week. Usually I love the discipline of writing and reflecting, so why the hesitation?
Two reasons come to mind:
+ First, I've been away for a few weeks on vacation and attending to my sister's death so I want to ease back into the role of pastor and preacher. I want to take the pulse of the community and get an intuitive sense of the Body of Christ before I start making any proclamations. It only seems like the right and respectful thing to do after my absence.
+ And second, as I've noted earlier this week, because I'm in an oddly fragile place these days ~ tender and vulnerable inside ~ I need to let my inner truth guide my spoken words. Sure, I've been doing this work long enough to know how to bluff my way through Sunday with some exaggerated bravado, theological rhetoric and humor. But that would be disingenuous - a charade for the congregation and a lie unto the Lord - so it seems better to take all my thoughts, prayers and concerns to worship quietly and see what the Spirit has in mind for Sunday.
So that's what I'm going to do ~ trust the Holy Spirit to guide me in worship ~ and trust my time in prayer, study and reflection, too. Tomorrow will be a sacred improvisation in the best jazz tradition. The passage from James 4:10 comes to mind as perhaps another part of my blues: Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and God will raise you up.
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