Two weeks ago I had the privilege of preaching at the church I work for. This was not my first time preaching, it was, however, the first time I preached four times on a Sunday. As I prepared for my sermon I realized I was thinking mainly of one of the four services, instead of all four. This was in part due to my having only attended the 10am service up to that point. I wasn’t sure how this would impact the delivery of the sermon at the other three services, but I knew I had to develop it as best as I knew how.
After preparing for what I hoped would be a solid sermon for this congregation I had just started working for I got up earlier than God, yes 5:45am is earlier than God gets up, and prepared myself for four services. The day progressed, 7:30 – done, 10 – done (even with 6 babies waiting to be baptized who were contributing to the sermon), 11:30 – done, 6pm – done! Once all four were finished I went home and crashed. To say I had a new found respect for pastors and priests who have to preach multiple times on a Sunday, was an understatement.
So I survived preaching the same sermon four times! The biggest take away from this was having personal experience to back up the belief that a sermon is different than a speech. I had the same text for each service, but as I looked into the congregation I knew the delivery needed to be a bit different for each one. The sermon had to connect with the congregation who was receiving it.
A sermon is a living organism between the text, the preacher, and the congregation guided by the breath of the Spirit. To say I did this perfectly is a grave exaggeration. To say I tried to open myself to the Spirit and the text so the sermon was living for each service is a fair statement.
Having experienced preaching the same text four times on a Sunday offered a vast learning opportunity. It has allowed me to know how to better prepare a sermon so it can move fluidly between each service. I am thankful for this experience which allowed me to realize how the same sermon needs to be unique in its own right for each service.
Here’s to the communication tool of a sermon; may it always be a living experience between the preacher, text, and congregation as they are all guided by the Spirit.