Monday, August 4, 2008

When The Spirit Shows Up

Sunday morning I preached on Isaiah 55. I did some reading and thinking during the two weeks prior, but last week I co-lead a junior high workcamp full of 18-hour days. That left Saturday to get my thoughts on paper and add some pertinent illustrations from the workcamp experience. Only Saturday afternoon I also needed to be 'mom' and travel with my daughter to the likely spot of her wedding next year. She is moving to the south in one more day(!) so some things need to be looked at now.

Having said all that, the sermon was complete about 11:30 pm Saturday, very late for me unless is was the um-teenth draft. As I walked into worship I chatted with a retired pastor in the congregation and told him I was counting on the Holy Spirit to show up. I knew I had some kernels, but the transitions from ideas were rough in places and sometimes the connection to the over-arching theme was weak. And yet, as people left, two in particular mentioned how the sermon spoke to them. I knew for sure it wasn't me. It was comforting to know that with me or in spite of me, God's message can come through.

Trygve David Johnson writes at Theolog
Revelation is why we keep preaching. God uses the spoken word to reveal the living Word. This is an event that can’t be teased or manipulated by technique. Even a bad sermon can be used by God to reveal God. That is the hope of us who preach. Revelation is always gift—always grace. On this grace Christianity stands or falls.
The Spirit showing up is a gift to the preacher and the congregation. Thanks be to God we can count on it.


RJ said...

Isn't it wild how sometimes the sermons we think tanked are the ones someone says "really helped them"!?! I, too, used Isaiah 55 as part of my reflection on expressing small acts of joy and beauty in a very quiet, private and sometimes publically austere environment. Thanks be to God for the spirit!

L. G. Fitzgerald said...

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"