I realized yesterday that I don’t know how to write a sermon without a friend. Or at least not a decent sermon. J and I were driving back from our monthly lunch with other young clergy women in the area (which, by the way, is a total sanity saver and probably worthy of a post all its own, and is completely worth the hour long drive it requires), but anyway, we’re driving back, and J let me brainstorm about my sermon for Sunday, something we often do for one another.
In the space of maybe four minutes, talking it through with her, I discovered that I had not one but three ideas that could each be a sermon in its own right. And we all know that you can only do one sermon at a time. And then managed to figure out which idea had the most energy around it, and even fleshed out four or five illustrations from our congregation’s life together. That would have taken me days of revision on my own, and even so, I might never have gotten to a point of such clarity without a friend to talk it through.
This says something about how I process information, of course, but I think the more interesting thing about it is that a sermon can’t (for me, at least) be written in isolation. There are dozens and dozens of books that remind us homileticians that our preaching needs to always be a conversation between a text and a people. You can find some of the good ones here or here or here or here or even here. But the content of a sermon should literally be able to hold its own in a conversation as well. If the idea isn’t clear enough and strong enough to be compelling when two people are sitting in a car discussing the heartaches and joys of their lives, then it’s not clear enough or strong enough to be a good word on a Sunday morning. If it’s not good news when two people are hashing out the daily business of living, then no amount of rhetoric, oratorical style, or pulpit pounding will make it relevant.
Now, off to actually write that sermon…