Yesterday I preached on John 20:19-end, with Acts 4:32-35 - readings for Easter 1. Recently I have begun (again) to write my sermon notes on computer - after years of writing them on the back of envelopes. When I went to save yesterday's sermon into my Sermon folder I noticed some sermons saved there from 2002. I thought it would be interesting to see what I had to say for Easter 1 in that year.
It was. I was horrified to see how complicated my sermon was: main points and sub-points. More a lecture than a sermon.
I think yesterday's sermon was a vast improvement in 2002. The difference was in 'paring down': aiming for as simple and as straightforward a sermon as possible, both in terms of structure and of content.
In the course of preparing my sermon I think I improved it hugely from first draft to final draft. The key to this improvement was greater attention to stories from the world around me. In a word I think I managed to come up with a simple, relevant message which engaged with the two readings for the day, and did so with greater competency than in 2002.
Of course you would have to ask the hearers whether my improved message was a good message!