I had a long talk this afternoon with a trusted friend about preaching. I don't often get to talk about preaching so it was a welcomed and wonderful conversation.
I love the preach--JUST LOVE IT....
I often meet priests who don't 'love' to preach. Some of them actually hate it. And I say to myself, "self, why did they choose this vocation?"
Preaching, for me, is the most fun part of being a priest.
Mostly I preach to myself--whenever I don't, it doesn't feel good or right. I have very little right to 'preach' at other people. I do know stuff about scripture and theology that they might not know--though some do!--but that doesn't give me the right to 'be preachy'.
I read the gospel well ahead...and sometimes the other lessons, though mostly I preach about the gospel lesson. And I just sit with it...or drive with it...or move around with it...or sleep with it and then, at some point, start writing things down I've been thinking.
Often I write a sermon in one draft. I haven't always done that--I used to agonize over the whole process--but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
Yes, you read that right. The more I preach, the younger and more child-like I become about it all. I listen 'for me' to what the gospel might be saying. Often it says lots of things and I have to trust my intuition to choose the one that speaks to me.
Then I write. And read it and read it (outloud several times) and then leave the text in the vesting room if I use the pulpit or on the pulpit if I preach walking around. (You've got to leave room for the Spirit--bless her heart--and read the faces of the poor, stranded, undefended listeners.
Preaching IS what a priest does--spoken or unspoken. Figuring out a new way or an old way spoken new to tell the timeless Truth of the Gospel.
I hope I will be able to preach much during my retirement. But it won't be the same, talking to myself in front of mostly strangers as it has been at St. John's--talking to myself in front of people I know so well and who have figured me out and who matter so much. It will be different, that I know--and I will miss preaching at St. John's...that I know fair well....
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