you forget your sermon manuscript at home.
I'm reminded of this because I woke up in a sweat this morning from another dream in which I discover, just as the opening hymn begins, that I do not have my sermon manuscript with me. It is at home, resting in the printer tray where I had left it before coming to church.
I used to have different recurring dreams, most notably the one where I am driving up a steep hill which gets steeper and steeper until I am not sure my little car will make it to the top but will tumble over backwards. That one I used to get when I was a school counselor and had way too many horrible issues to help students with, plus do lunch duty and lead a committee meeting, all in the same day.
The ministry dream visits me every once in awhile because I am one of those ministers who is pretty tied to a manuscript. I don't want to take the chance of babbling, oversharing, or making inappropriate joking remarks which offend; I do these things without my manuscript. I envy those who can speak off the cuff without error, but I know myself too well. Even on a topic I know thoroughly, I tangentize, I get off track, let's face it---I babble.
So the manuscript is my friend. I treat it like the stone tablets of Moses---wait, they had a bad first edition, didn't they? I forget. Anyhow, I protect my manuscript carefully because I never want this dream to come true.
But if it did? I have a Plan B.
My school teaching experiences have helped me develop this Plan, because a classroom setting is one place where I don't babble. Because I have a Lesson Plan. I have an outline that is full of cogent questions THAT I CAN ASK MY STUDENTS.
That's right, if I were to lose or forget my manuscript at home in the printer tray, I would quickly jot down the main points of the sermon in question form and turn the sermon into a time of congregational give and take. Sort of a Socratic method sermon, in which I don't have to provide the answers, I can just steer the discussion.
It wouldn't make everyone happy and it wouldn't work in huge venues. I would be stuck then and I haven't yet developed a Plan C or D. But so far I haven't even had to use Plan B.
It's worth thinking about, for seminarians and established clergy as well. What is your Plan B?