Thursday, February 10, 2011

Preaching Ahead of Myself

I've mentioned this a few times.  It's what I've been trying to do for two years.

In February of 2009, I met with the instructor of the Homiletics (preaching) class for which, under normal circumstances, I would have registered during the third quarter of my second year of seminary.  My son had been dead for six months.  I had a number of concerns:  What good news, exactly, might there be to preach?  How would I contend with the professor's expectations for memorization, when most of the time I could no longer remember which city I was in?  What if I completely failed? That last question involved both self-confidence and GPA components, neither of them looking good.

It appeared that taking Homiletics, just like getting up each morning, was probably an exceptionally foolish thing to attempt.

So I did.  Attempt it. The most significant factor in my decision was the statement offered by a friend  in the cafeteria line one day:  "You'll be studying and preaching the Word of God," she said.  "What could be more healing?"

I thought that she had lost her mind but: whatever.  The whole universe was so off-kilter that I was hardly in a  position to challenge her assertion. 

My first assignment was not terrible, and then I made it through the second.  And then a few months later I began working at my field ed church and came up with the idea of "preaching ahead of myself."  My friend Wayne would call it Hope.  TIKVA in Hebrew.  Just like the little drawing he made for me.

Every sermon I preach, I think:  Not there yet.  Look ahead.

I'm doing an online book study/retreat with three other moms who've lost older children.  We've been talking this week about what it means, in our circumstances, as opposed to normal ones, to choose life.  I quoted Deuteronomy 30:19 in one of my posts to them.

Two days ago I received an unexpected call with a request to fill in for a pastor who has to be out of state for a family funeral this week-end.  "Sure," I said.   I continued with my day, I taught my evening class, visited with some friends, came home and had some dinner, and finally opened the computer for a look at the lectionary.

Dear God.

"Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live ."  Deuteronomy 30:19.

Choose life.

The epistle passage: Choose growth.

The gospel passage: Choose authenticity.


I'm beginning to think that I have a dissertation in me on the topic of preaching ahead of yourself.


  1. When all the buoys line up on a row, isn't that the sign that you are heading into the harbor? I think so. Praying you will be encoraged as you give courage.

  2. Loud and clear...I hear ya. Had a similar experience with salt passage...

    will hold you in prayer this weekend.

  3. excellent. I was bursting with hope Friday morning in my classroom, but needed some refueling by the end of the day.