I think every preacher worth more than his salt has a memory chest full of moments like mine from this past Sunday. It had been a tight week, the sermon had puzzled me all week, and when it was finally together, I wasn’t particularly pleased with it. I never really came to a sermon structure I particularly liked, and the sermon teetered between being too simplistic and useless and overly dramatic and bullyish. It was a tricky sermon to get out, partly because the text (Luke 6:27-36) is so raw that it seemed to be defying me to do anything but read it slowly. It didn’t want to be massaged or tweaked, it just wanted me to listen to it.
Anyway, whatever the cases for my unease, I just didn’t feel like I had my A-game that day. I just wasn’t feeling great about what I had put together.
But nonetheless, people were, in that instance still able to hear the Word of God in the sermon moment. I felt like I was at my least effective moment, but the effect of the word was clearly felt by many in the church.
Look, count me among the people that gets a little gagged when I hear things like “God really showed up!” when we talk about stuff like this. I usually don’t like it because it feels really trite and cutesy. I’m not a robot, but I just don’t like that kind of emotional stuff. It’s probably because I really value intentionality and control.
But this past week was one in which I really did feel as though the power of the word of God was functioning in a powerful way in our community, regardless of my performance. For someone that flirts with hubris, that’s a good thing. (I have a website with my name in the domain, people. I’m more vain than I should be. If I didn’t realize I had arrogance issues, that would be an issue.) It’s a good thing to realize that preaching, even when I am practicing my craft well, isn’t really about how well I perform. Preaching is about how honest I am with the word, and how well people hear the word. So, this week I want to do the best I can, but I know that the best part of the sermon won’t be some cute saying I made up with or any smoking hot exegesis. It’ll be in the moments with the Word, when we simply listen together to the Word.
That’s where the power is. That’s where the power has always been.