and above all, something borrowed.
That seems to be the construction of most of my sermons at present.
For various reasons, to do with poor time-keeping, worse boundary management and simply Too Much To Do, my sermon preparation time is being cut to the bone at present.
I read the texts on Monday or Tuesday...think a little....make great plans to read round, to walk the texts over the next few days, to pray and pause and pray some more...and then somehow, appallingly, it's Saturday afternoon and I am due to be somewhere else by early evening and I have not one coherent sermon thought to my name
So I read feverishly. I read Jane Williams and Tom Wright. I read the Church Times. I read the New Interpretters.
I read the sermons posted by my friends and colleagues on PRCL and at the 11th hour Preacher Party
I read the comments and discussions at Desperate Preacher
I look to see if wonderful wonderful Dylan has attacked this passage and then, THEN, I truncate all the good intentions into about 5 minutes of frantic prayer as to which direction of all those I've read and been impressed by, God might actually want me to take.
Sometimes it's so hard to re-present and re-formulate an idea that my presentation of it sounds pretty much like a quote from the original
Sometimes, (though with proper attribution where I'm aware of it) I don't even realise I'm quoting directly till I re read the whole thing moments before I fall into bed
Mostly I borrow and reframe...I use some bones provided by others, some bones that I seem to find lying about the place here, and am enabled to flesh them out with my own words and thoughts, all by the light of the midnight oil.
But it's so very far from the way I want to preach.
I want to engage with the texts, to explore and to contemplate, to present old truths in creative ways...instead I seem to be serving up an endless diet of "ready meals" cooked in a microwave.
The fact that people seem to find them satisfying is very small consolation.
Really working with the word is one of the ways that I grow, but it doesn't seem to be part of the picture at all.
I need to sort this out...but I need time to achieve that.
So, when would that be?