I finished the sermon this morning and, as always, I found that, though I had some specific ideas about what I wanted to say, the sermon had a mind of its own and pretty much wrote itself. I checked back over the brainstorming I'd done earlier and tucked away in the folder for Dec. 7 and saw that most of my ideas had made it into the text, but in a different way than I had expected.
I think this is a manifestation of the still small voice, that we can't always state our wisdom in the terms that we might want to use. Sometimes another source guides the words. I don't know what to call that---I don't believe that "everything happens for a reason"and therefore it's God writing the sermon. I do believe that we give meaning to what happens, we learn to look for the unexpected outcomes of what happens, to look beyond the event for its consequences on down the line.
Coming back to the actual topic of this post---I regularly discover that if I let go of my specific ideas and let the sermon write itself it turns out better than if I agonize over every word and sentence structure. I tend to write out of my heart, then go back and "deliver" what I've written orally and see if it is true to my experience and coherent from beginning to end. It takes me most of the week to do this. If I saved my sermon writing for Saturday morning, for example, it would not work for me. I need cogitation time---not just thinking time but percolating time, time for the ideas to coalesce and become something more than just words.
I'm happy with my method and I'm usually happy with my writing. It took me aback once to get a message from another blogger, who shall remain nameless, that my writing turned her stomach. It made me think about my style and the topics I choose for posts, which was useful, but her need to insult me stung and I quickly lost any respect for her as a voice, for I saw her do the same thing to others and realized that this was not a voice I needed to heed. I think that kind of experience is useful, for it causes us to take stock, to develop our own voice, and to think hard about the feedback we get.
I'm looking forward to delivering this sermon tomorrow. I'm including several periods of silence, once again, for I am starting to believe that we need more silence in worship, that we need not fill every space with words, that in the interstices there is opportunity for growth. I'll post it tomorrow afternoon. See you then.