Some continuing reflection on getting sermons right.
For this Sunday past I found my sermon preparation went something like this:
Good idea for sermon re connecting it with well-known current event.
Drift through the week confident that the good idea would 'work', going over likely text in my mind from time to time.
Get to some serious writing later in the week.
Emerging feeling that the 'good idea' was not working well, but press on with draft writing.
Complete draft and feel it is not quite 'there'.
Eventually make a decision: drop 'good idea' and work the sermon in a different direction.
Incidentally, this meant allowing the text of Scripture to play a more prominent role in the content of the sermon.
Ultimately the sermon as delivered seemed to work well (praise God).
What do I learn from this?
(1) Underlining of the importance of writing down what I think I am going to say: this forces me to look at what I think is going to 'work' in a different light, to review it, and if necessary to change it.
(2) Listen to feelings sooner rather than later: on reflection my feeling that the good idea was not such a good idea could have been attended to earlier, with a decision made so that the final text was being worked on earlier in the week.
(3) The text of Scripture. The text of Scripture. The text of Scripture. Repeat after me, "the text of Scripture should drive the sermon preparation forward more than anything else!"
You can see from this that I find the greatest challenge in preaching is preparation. If only sermons were dictated from heaven ... but then, God was trying to say something to me, both through his written Word, and through prompting of the Spirit. I was not a very good listener!