Good morning all!
Today’s scripture: PSALM 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.
Yesterday when I woke up I was nervous. Now, I always get nervous before going to church to preach. I think a bit of anxiety is a good sign when preaching. To me, it’s a sign that I think the words and worship are still important. But yesterday when I woke up, I was definitely more nervous because I really thought that my sermon was well…was pretty sucky. And those of you who are preachers out there or those of you who are in public at all will understand…there are some days where you just don’t feel like you have the best to offer. There are some weeks when the writing process is smooth and you feel that the spirit is moving and God is working through you and other weeks (like this last one) where the writing comes in tiny spurts and it doesn’t feel that inspired and the sermon really doesn’t excite for me to even want to preach it.
I was nervous as I got up and got ready. I kept thinking, “Ok, God you have to take this one, improve it, meld it.” I prayed on it in the shower and thought of some things and pondered. I prayed on it as I realized I didn’t have any printer ink which would put a wrench into my routine but that is ok. I sang loudly in the car as I headed to the church to print off my sermon and revise even more. Now, I have my own little ritual of getting to the church fairly early and walking through the sanctuary to pray around it. I sometimes light a candle, I sometimes just sit in a pew but I tend to wander. This particular Sunday morning I ran in to print my sermon and didn’t really have the time to meander. In fact, when I got into the sanctuary Susan (the wonderful woman who puts all details together and is awesome) was already detailing around the sanctuary and having a need to process. We did that and I went to look over and mark up this sermon that I thought was pretty lame. I told Susan so…I asked her jestingly to pray about it….
I went into the office and while I looked through the sermon just repeatedly thought, “Ok, God, you can do something with this.” I read a bit which did help my delivery later on, something stuck (Thanks God!).
I went to breakfast and chatted and thought, “ok, God, you and me…you and me.” I chatted with the 845 worship assistant who felt at a loss for what to say to connect the points. I said I couldn’t be all that helpful because I was pretty sure my sermon didn’t do that either. I told him we just have to know that something will happen between here and there and it’s not all about us and worship will happen anyway. If I had hills to look to, I would have done that here and now because it seemed we were all in the same boat in need of words.
And then some crazy miracle happened, my sermon didn’t totally suck. In fact, many people came up to me after both services to tell me how much they loved the sermon and it spoke to them. Plus it actually really spoke to me in the delivery. I had so much fun preaching at the 930 service (thanks to 845 for being the first ones to hear and gather my nervousness) and both services (in my opinion) were spirit filled and lovely. The music was moving and fantastic, the worship assistants rocked, people were full of community. The services hit right on and we worshiped in community.
So I have to believe a few things. First of all, it is worth looking to the hills to search for help because we have to know that we are not alone to get through this crazy life full of obstacles and anxiety and just life in general. Secondly, help comes from those places and for me yesterday I have to believe that God works on me, on the listener, and the in between. Finally, sometimes we have these days that do not feel our best and yet we have to be willing to except that they will turn out ok. The day will happen anyway and what if we expected that it would be better than that?
For today our prayer will just be a look to the hills and acknowledgement that we are not alone, that God is our help, and that today may be ok (Mondays are hard most times). Amen.