I have just read one of the most amazingly poignant and beautiful sermons I've ever encountered anywhere.
And remember, I have been a member of two churches in which outstanding preaching is a weekly expectation, I've been to seminary, and I've heard dozens of sermons at Chautauqua, where the best of the best tend to show up each summer. I'm pretty clear on what an A+++++++++ sermon is.
This particular sermon was preached in our home church this morning (we're on the road, so I wasn't there) by a friend and elder colleague, the woman with whom I planned the Blue Christmas service.
And it got me thinking. Part of what makes it so elegant and lovely is her willingness to be vulnerable, to share the intimate essence of her spiritual experience. Something which yes, I would be comfortable, to some extent, doing in my home congregation.
But elsewhere? I'm guest preaching pretty regularly these days, and I find that I am not much inclined to open my heart to that degree in situations in which I am unknown. I am thinking about what the people to whom I'm preaching might need to hear, and I am not imagining that that has much to do with me. What I pour out in my blogs, what I might use for some essays or a book on the spirituality of surviving loss ~ if any of that shows up in my preaching these days, it's extremely oblique. I think.
I wonder: Has seminary ruined me for preaching? Do I even know, contrary to my assertion above, what it means to preach anymore? Or am I being appropriately sensitive to context?
Weigh in, you preachers out there. How and where and when do you draw the boundary lines?