Monday, September 28, 2009

The Monday After

As a vicar, the Monday morning after preaching a "sermon" can be either a big relief or a day when you realize that what you preached on Sunday may not have been very good at all.

The first comments come right after the service (a few actual examples said to me):

"A wonderful message, vicar."
"I enjoyed your sermon, Pastor."
"I'm proud that you call a spade a spade. Not many want to do that these days."
"When you said that, you really made the older members of the church lean forward to hear what you were saying."
"I'm glad you added that part about the rowdy kids vicar."
"I like the way you handled the text."

The second comments come later and are more helpful:

"Your delivery was good, but it seemed like there were three different thoughts that weren't finished."
"You could have focused on X,Y,and Z to make it better."


As a vicar I know I am here to learn. I know I do not know how to articulate the word of God in such a way like many learned pastors can. But the fact is, from the feedback I have been getting, this was a crappy "sermon". Now I know that the question to ask when evaluating a sermon is "Was I faithful to the text?" I thought I might have been. At least, in my thought processes in coming up with what to write, I thought I was faithful. But from the comments I have to question myself.

First, the latter set of comments.
Does the manner in which you present the text affect faithfulness to the text? I think yes. If you do not articulate clearly then you cannot convey the correct meaning of the text. It, as was the case with my sermon, was too disjointed to be understandable. Thus, in that respect I was not faithful to the text.

Secondly, the second set of comments deals with something that has troubled me.
I know the law needs to be preached. The way things are needs to be presented in the way things really are. But if you look at my comments, it seems the law won the battle in the minds of the people and I'm not sure what to make of it. Did I not preach Christ? Did the Gospel not predominate in my sermon? I worry about such things. Or was it simply that the Holy Spirit chose that they dwell upon the law and understand its significance, even in the light of the Gospel? I don't know. That is my hope. I hope that I wasn't a preacher of works without Christ.

And this is my struggle. Hopefully, I was faithful. I fear I was not. But then again, perhaps I put not enough trust in Christ. Perhaps I am the weak in faith that I spoke of on Sunday. Perhaps God did see me faithful to His Word and was using it to accomplish His purpose. How much responsibility do I take? How much do I trust and leave in the hands of God despite my failings? God sustain me in this task, because I'll be paralyzed to speak Your Word should You not.

+Kyrie Eleison+

1 comment:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Remember,

People have much more practice ducking the Law of a sermon and applying to the person in the other pew than you do with preaching. Learn, break down your approach, and improve thereupon.

Also, you will always need to improve. My sermons are the worst when I am the most confident about them, the most sure that I am the uber-preacher. Humility is needed.

Finally,

God can talk through a jackass to a corrupt prophet; He can use you to talk to people from Michigan (even though they stole a game from Indiana with a bad call).