Mary Beth Writes

This is what it’s like to preach if you hardly ever do it.

This coming Sunday (2/25/18) I am preaching in my own church, United Universalist Unitarian at 506 N. Washington in Waukesha, at 10:30. You are very welcome to attend. 

My sermon is “645 Years Later / Julian of Norwich and the Spiritual Art of Perseverance.”

I have been working on this sermon a little and then a lot for the past several weeks.  It is a peculiar adventure to invent a sermon topic, write the sermon, and then preach it. Women and men who do this every week have my utmost respect - and disbelief.

I advise it in much the same way I advise wilderness camping without wilderness camping skills. You can do it, but prepare to be exhausted.  There is the possibility of a snake right behind you, a mid-sized bear a half mile up ahead on the right, or a charming but deadly heresy twinkling in that puddle.  You have to try to stay focused.

So the first thing is finding a topic and giving it a Sermon Title.  This is because – Church Newsletter.  It is an odd challenge to know what you want to say BEFORE you start working on what you want to say. If you are me, you will have a great title and several weeks later when you need to really write the thing, you will be amazed that you actually thought there was anything there there. 

Blessedly, hardly anyone but the church secretary remembers what a church newsletter says.  Also blessedly, I’ve never met a church secretary who wasn’t smart as blazes, but they don’t broadcast what they know.

Next, you are probably not the most distracted sermon-writer ever, but you might be close. Maybe the Divine Almighty really wanted you to read eight pages of quotes by Mark Twain and then that cool essay about Manicheism in Jane Austen and - who knew you could still find most of the Calvin and Hobbes strips online? 

What I’m saying is that all writing requires amazing amounts of not surfing the internet – and writing a sermon is worse than that. 

Then again, if Jonathan Edwards had a smartphone, maybe our heritage could have been “Sinners in the Hands of a God Who, By the Looks of It, has a Marvelous Sense of Humor and Some Mighty Intrepid Love.”  ("Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" was a sermon  preached by Edwards in 1741. He preached a terrifying Hell thus helping to tumble the American colonies into the Great Awakening of c. 1730–1755. To this day way too many Americans assume religion is about avoiding hell, instead of being welcomed into love, service, and community. Edwards gets a lot of credit for this craziness.)

So you write the thing, hopefully read it over enough to get it up to or down to about 12-17 minutes – and suddenly it’s Sunday morning.  Don’t eat much breakfast … and one cup of coffee is plenty, kids. If you hardly ever do this – or even if you do it every week – your insides are in Fright, Fight, and Flight mode - no matter how often you remind yourself these are just church-going humans, generally some of the nicest people on earth. 

Finally, there you are, standing somewhere in the vicinity of a pulpit. You start to talk, or read your script, of touch your points on your notecards, and you are doing it. You are preaching.

And even though it is so-so-so weird, it is also one of the coolest things I know. It’s like love out-loud.  You hope what you have to say invites those people out there to be brave and to have hope. You tell old stories they know, and the new ones only you knew but you want to share them now. You haul in poetry and promises written 3000 years ago and maybe parts of a rap you heard on YouTube in the past month.  You make points and describe scenes and invite people to seriously consider and respect their own lives and challenges.

It is the best thinking you have this week. You say it the best you can. You trust the moment. Because even though you have been circling this sermon for weeks, it no longer belongs to just you; it belongs to all of you in that sanctuary. Spirit, light, words. Together all of you make whatever is going to happen, happen. It is building an invisible ship and then sailing into the coming week on it.

About an hour later the hoopla and coffee is kaput. You go home. You eat a giant lunch and fall sleep all afternoon.

 

 

Tags

Comments

I totally will leave the preaching up to you. I can be your cheer leader. Love out loud - made me laugh. I’ll keep my love silent. You and what you do are awesome.

I appreciate your awe (hah).. since of all the humans I know, you and G knew me when I did this the FIRST time around...

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

"Something Happened Here"

What's your opinion on the High Holy Religious Holidays?

I don't necessarily believe the beliefs that the Christian Churches say one ought to believe. I did for decades and then in short order and long practice, many of those dogmas faded away.  I don't think that means I am right and doctines are wrong. I mostly believe one learns more about faith by trying to live a generous and kind life (anyone who thinks being kind is for sissies hasn't done enough of it yet) than argue shades of theological pronouncements that have come to us, too often, via powerful white men. 

Where I am Preaching 12/31/2017

I am preaching this Sunday, Dec 31st in Beaver Dam, WI at this church.

http://www.trinitychurch-unitedmethodist.org/

The service will start at 9:30 in case any of you live close and couldn’t think of what else to do Sunday morning (hah).

 My sermon is “Something Happened Here”

“One innocent day last spring my husband asked me if I would like to take a little getaway to Chester, Illinois, In August.  Because we all know how appealing southern Illinois is, in August.

“What’s in Chester, Il?”

Sermon – Something Happened Here

One innocent day last spring my husband asked me if I would like to take a little getaway to Chester, Illinois, In August.  Because we all know how appealing southern Illinois is, in August.

“What’s in Chester, Il?”

“It’s in the Path of Totality. There is going to be an eclipse in August and there will be a 60-mile path that goes from Oregon to South Carolina, and Chester is inside that path. If we go there we can see a total eclipse.”

Sermon – Roses on the Columbia

The word courage comes from the Latin Cor – which means heart. Core – the center of things. Cor - to go towards the essence of what needs to happen, to be at the middle of an event. Courage is to act from our ‘cor” - our center, our heart.

While on the space shuttle Columbia, which would explode during reentry a few days later, astronaut Laurel Clark wrote some emails to family and friends. This is from one of them: Subject: Hello from 150 NM above the Earth

Invite Me to Speak - It's not SIMPLE life, it's Simpler Life

I can speak to the luxuries and adventures that happen when one pursues a simpler life.

What are things to consider and enjoy?

Knowing oneself well enough to know what you want from your mortal life.

Where to live.

What to drive (or not drive).

What projects to tackle and which ones to let lie low.

What to wear.

How to splurge with joy and not worry.

When to go out and when to stay home.

Friends, company, cats and pups.

How do you design and live your own authentic, generous, rewarding life?

Invite Me to Speak - How to Retire on Less than a Half Million

I wrote that line! "If growing up is the process of creating ideas and dreams about what life should be, then maturity is letting go again."  Somebody made the poster without asking, so I use the poster without asking....

...

I'm not Financial Planner - don't come to me for Money Rules For a Retirement Income That Will Not Fail.

I am a thinker and observer. And  we are retired (on less than a half million) and we love this part of our lives.

Ad Promotion