"For the longest time these songs were eluding me. I felt like a kid trying to collect lightning bugs. I’d catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and run for it, but the light would go out just as I thought I’d gotten hold of one. But eventually I caught on to their game. I stopped chasing them altogether. Instead I just sat there as if I were completely disinterested in them. And wouldn’t you know it, one by one they came to me! Flew right into my jar." - Ray LaMontagne on song writing for his 5th Album | Supernova
I’m pretty sure this is probably the closest anyone has ever come to describing how I feel about sermon writing every week. Over the years people have asked, how do you “write” or get a sermon? I remember as a teen walking up to my pastor’s pulpit after another fiery message, to thank him, only to see a stack of notes on the music stand. I was devastated, I had thought all this time that sermons were divinely inspired the moment you walk on stage and stand behind the mighty pulpit. Of course now I know that not all “spontaneous” messages are “anointed” of God. In fact, heart-felt preparation is often the key to unlocking the anointing. It’s a way to seek God and show God we are doing our part and not relying on “charisma” alone. But I digress.
There’s something about crafting a sermon. It forms you.
I often liken sermon writing to that of writing an episode for a TV series. Each “episode” must move the larger story along but it must also be able to stand alone as complete in and of itself.
Anyways back to what it feels like to write a sermon every week. Mr. LaMontagne has described it perfectly. I often start the week chasing the sermon, but after much reading, studying, panicking… I stop chasing. I go into a state of resting; i.e. praying. I find myself worshipping, reconnecting with God, letting God paint a picture of the text at hand. The senses are awakened, the story expands as I imagine the story at hand. I become more and more disinterested in the “sermon” and find that I am engulfed in the characters, in the plot of the Biblical narrative.
“I stopped chasing them altogether. Instead I just sat there as if I were completely disinterested in them. And wouldn’t you know it, one by one they came to me! Flew right into my jar." - R. Montagne
As I meditate on the Word, the “lightning bugs” begin to fly right into my heart. I am enlightened by the Word. I am convicted by the Word. Sometimes, I can’t even move… I just worship quietly, embarrassed to draw attention to my little office. And as I sit and let them in a sermon is born.