Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Sermon I Want to Write vs. the Sermon I Need to Write

So, the lectionary is a good thing, yes? I knew this week was Baptism of Our Lord for a long time, knowing I'd be preaching. I hadn't looked at the texts closely prior to Tuesday morning. When Isaiah's/God's words struck me the most. "I have called you by name, you are mine." (The text is Isaiah 43:1-7.) And others..."you are precious in my sight; I love you." Words that most of us need to hear more often than we do. I read these on Tuesday morning, just after having been given a heads-up that I was going to have someone come in to talk to me in the afternoon as a follow-up to an evaluation given 2 plus years ago. The story is much more drawn out than I have in me. The conversation went well, but here are the highlights. I don't talk about myself enough in my sermons. (Really--I was taught that sermons should be about, I don't know, GOD.) I am not 'friendly' enough in the narthex before/after services. (Really--when you rush to put your coat on or make a closed circle to talk with your friends, I'm not going to interrupt you unless I have something more specific than good morning to say.) I've been here nearly 7 years; these aren't new things...but I can only change so much. Especially when I found out this follow-up (so late) is because a handful of people thought that they should 'eliminate the position' for 2010. At least council said, "no--if this was part of the evaluation 2 years ago, we need to follow up on it rather than having done nothing than told her that 2 years ago...and we don't agree on the step of eliminating the position."

Anyway, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at 1 a.m. Baby Girl wakes up. I listen to her whine/moan/cry through the moniter about 15 minutes and then go hold her, rocking her for 1/2 hour before she settles down. Just long enough to be fully awake and hear the words echoing in my head that I'm not good enough. (And continuing to echo for at least an hour more after I get back in my bed.) I never have been and never will be. The good news is that I also had the words of Isaiah/God echoing around in there. "You are precious in my sight and I love you. I created you. You are mine."

So the sermon I want to write is basically this..."You want to hear more about me. How about this? I'm a shy quiet introvert who wants you to learn about me by taking time to talk to me, not by sharing stories from the pulpit. From here, I want you to hear about God. But today, how about this? In my life, I've hardly ever felt good enough...and Tuesday I was told I wasn't good enough to be here, to be standing before you. So I spent hours awake with that echoing in my head. The good news is that I had God's voice too--and too bad for you, that's the one I'm going to listen to. If I'm not good enough for you, fine. I am God's beloved and I am doing the best I can to be who God made me--and it's not by telling stories about myself or about shaking more hands after worship."

And the sermon I need to write is not quite the same....It will be about all of us needing to hear Isaiah's/God's words echoing in our minds. I just first have to get through the sermon I want to write and to hear the sermon I need to hear in order to get to the sermon they need to hear.


Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing this. Both sermons are ones that maybe I needed to hear. :-)

I don't know a ton about the situation, but I am guessing there are just a few voices saying those mean things. And I agree with you about what belongs in the pulpit!!

Betsy said...

Oh, my...please keep listening to God's words first and last!

I suspect the sermon you want to preach and the one you need to preach are maybe not so far apart. Because what you are saying reflects how every one of us feels at some time or another, and maybe more often than not. Have you watched those Dove ads (they are on their website) that in various ways try to remind girls/women that they are way too hard on themselves? You are beloved and wonderful, and while we all have our weak spots, they do not define who we are or our worth!

Mary Beth said...


Juniper said...

powerful sermons, both. and yes. what betsy said!

Magdalene6127 said...

I am so moved by what you've written here, silent, and so glad you have God's voice echoing in your head and heart. Let it grow in strength and volume!

Peace, Mags

Crimson Rambler said...

oh darlin' -- I am sorry you didn't preach it, and even more sorry, from the vantage point of 10 days' retirement, that I didn't preach it -- preferably, annually!!!
(and you ARE TOO good enough)
Word verf is "biley" -- related to "bilious" do you suppose?