Thursday, December 30, 2010

Week Old Bread and Sermons

Doing some end of the year tasks this week like writing my annual report for the annual business meeting. I wonder about that one. How much time do you put into a report that a small percentage of the congregation ever reads and when it is read it takes a few minutes, and is never discussed, and then filed away for perpetuity. Which means it is never looked at again. Then, there is the task of looking back over the year of preaching. What does one do with preached sermons? This past year I preached over twenty times from the gospels, mostly from Luke which was the lectionary gospel this year. I preached sermons from Habbakuk and Haggai which was fun because many people had never heard a sermon from those Bible books (one person confessed he did not even know Habakkuk was in the Bible but he read it and liked it.). Then, there were about ten other Old Testament sermons, mostly from Jeremiah. The epistles were the source for three sermons, Acts for one, and none from Revelation. I don't remember much from most of those sermons although as I looked through them some of the main points came back to me. As I said, the Biblical texts came from the lectionary this year. I haven't always followed the lectionary but I am finding I like to more and more. The text is already selected and it can be facing me as I get started on sermon work Monday morning. If forces me to consider passages in the Bible I would otherwise never think of like Habakkuk and Haggai. At this stage in my preaching I like not having to come up with a text, or a topic or a series on my own. I know I would probably preach on those themes I like the most. Still, I noticed my preaching is informed by my current reading and experiences both personal and what is going on in the community or the world. That is as it needs to be. Preaching is not a lecture or a course people are taking. It needs to speak to our lives as we live them. That suggests what to do with the past years sermons. I don't read preachers books of sermons. Old sermons are like week old homemade bread - stale and dry. However, there is nothing like a good piece of bread right out of the oven. Sermons are like that. They are best consumed on the day they are preached after a week of preparation. They are the fresh meal of God's word for that day. If you eat it weekly, it will sustain you over time. It is not so good served as leftovers. So, like I often do with my homemade bread that has become stale and dry, I will throw these old sermons out. It is not easy to do that with my bread and I find it just as hard to do that with my sermons.