Good morning all!
Luke 21:34-38New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
When I was first considering pastoral ministry in a church, the big hang up I had was the whole preaching thing. I didn’t think it was really my thing. Pastors are basically putting together a 15-20 minute speech and I was convinced that my nerves just couldn’t handle it. Each time I had to preach I was shaking with nerves.
I preached my first sermon when I was a senior in high school at Lebanon First UMC. My pastor was Kate (hey, Kate) and she was convinced that I had something to say. I remember being soooo nervous and my friends and family had come to support on top of that! During this service, Gene actually stood up and proclaimed that I would be a great pastor someday. That was no where in the plan.
I went to college. I might have preached to the youth group I was working with…still not in the plans. Not my thing.
I went to seminary and I found my self in preaching class. This was probably my least favorite class. There was structure to how a preacher should preach. My preaching teacher told me at the end of the class, “I can really see you as an Associate pastor who doesn’t really have to preach all that much.” While I was relieved I was a little devastated too….he didn’t think I could preach. hmmm….during my last year of seminary, I not had to preach a few times, I had to do it in Spanish! Talk about staying up all night worrying!
My first time preaching in Spanish was in a house church. This church I served had house church every Friday night at different homes around Chicago. The preacher of the night (one of the clergy) would sit with everyone and when it was their time they would just stand up and start up. I sat clenching my papers. When it was my time, there were two women rubbing my back. When I didn’t stand, they literally pushed me up and held me up while I spoke.
When I went into pastoral ministry as an associate (the plan changed as you can see…and that is another blog), i was relieved to discover that I would only preach once a month. I asked the senior pastor (hey, Jim) if this would get any easier (I would almost be throwing up, I was so nervous). His reply? “Nope, not in the 40 years I have done it.” Great.
Now I find myself preaching every week. This was a concern as I moved from Corvallis. Could I handle this every week thing? This is exactly what I was dreading. Turns out, this every week thing is something that I love. I find a groove. Preaching becomes a discipline that I have with myself and with others. There is a connection like no other with those I preach to and with. There is a shared experience and the holy spirit works within. It isn’t just a speech but a place where the spirit moves and creation happens. Don’t get me wrong, I get extremely nervous still. At 8pm on Saturday nights (almost to the dot) my stomach flips and the anxiety begins. I can’t eat anything Sunday morning but once I get going, I know that Jesus is going to show up.
Jesus was a preacher. People got up early for it. This passage makes me wonder if Jesus got nervous before bringing the word. All of the art of him preaching shows him confident and with thousands gathered around. His arms are outstretched as he brings the spirit among them. He preaches to prepare for the season. He preaches love. Now that I have been a preacher, I wonder if he comes in understated and brings them in with words and care. I connect with him needed to refuel and come back and I certainly admire his presence and modeling for me in the everyday.
We all have a word to preach. Not just the preachers and the pastors. We all have something to speak out on behalf of God, exploring the gospel and retelling how we connect.
What will you preach today? How do you find your voice?