Sunday, June 21, 2009

OK, this has not happened to me before

I am sitting here disoriented and a bit giddy.

I have been preaching for 20 years now and what just happened at our 10 a.m. service is brand new to me.

I've had illustrations or ideas pop into my head while preaching before - little extras that helped engage the congregation or amplify a point.

But this morning I had an almost entire makeover of the sermon come at me while in the pulpit.

This was not my mind retrieving stuff that I edited out earlier in the week - this was a brand new insight and a pointed message which filled my consciousness and went to my tongue with unusual simplicity and clarity.

The folks got it - it's what they talked about at the church door and the coffee tables.

Right now I just need to be still but I'm throwing this out for input from other preachers.


Jill C. said...

As you know, I'm not a preacher . . . but it sure sounds like THE Holy Spirit to me. :)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

TLF+ said...

Jill - this month, the congregation has been asking the Father to give us the Holy Spirit, based on Jesus' promise in Luke 11:13.

Yesterday, my wife was sending a message to someone and was moved to add "Hope you daughter is well" (we don't even know the daughter personally). The recipient wrote back and said, "Thank you. The last couple of days have been hard for her."

Last week two lay people, independently and without having communicated, approached the vestry with the same ideas to make certain changes on our campus in order to make it more welcoming of visitors.

I could go on typing examples from the last few weeks.

The message I was given today had to do with identifying and surrendering those aspects of our lives which we "hold back" from God - it tied into David's being a great king but a lousy dad, Paul's exhortation of the Corinthians to "open their hearts", and Jesus' challenge to the disciples, "Where is your faith?"

Wilf said...

I thank God for you and your congregation, Fr. Tim. An honour to be able to pray for you.

The Underground Pewster said...

Godincidences abound! We usually don't notice them, and we end up attributing them to chance, our own doing, or our own good fortune.

Keep writing those sermons out ahead of time! I have seen what happens when one waits until he is at the pulpit to "write" their sermon. Those of us in the pews often come out feeling like crumpled pieces of paper.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I've had that happen a couple of times. I remember the first time because the sermon I had prepared was a bomb at the 8AM service, and I tinkered with it a bit before the 10:30 service.

Then when the gospel was being read, its like a lightbulb came on and I just preached the whole sermon without notes, and it was infinitely better.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks through us, despite our best efforts.

TLF+ said...

Because the message had to do with identifying ways of "holding back" from God, I suspect that God needed to surprise me, because He's asking me to look at myself and make some changes. As Archer said, "despite my best efforts" :)

Thanks, Wilf, for the prayers!

Pewster - yes, will continue to prepare. Preaching is primary work and the people deserve to have their preachers working at it.

JEALSTI said...

It has been several years since I have had "pulpit time", but I can attest to what you've experienced.

I remember one night in particular, when I ended up going down an unplanned rabbit trail as I looked out the sanctuary window, watching cars drive by on 57th Street, and the sermon went down a path of taking our lives and ministry OUT of the sanctuary only, so the people "out there" could realize the reality of God's desire to be in their everyday life, and not just for "those people, in those church buildings".

The sermon was related to the topic, but this was a complete diversion from the notes!

Even though some compliments were received that night from people in the service, I sincerely thought I had blown it, and was a wasted sermon, until a few months later.

I was sitting in KFC eating, and a complete stranger came up to me and asked if I was the guy he remembered hearing. We talked for a few minutes, and it was a great encouragement to hear how it impacted him.

I thought it was just a fairly small group of regulars, and I didn't even recall any visitors in the service that night.

So, this was an interesting discussion he and I had.

TLF+ said...

Those kinds of confirmations are such a blessing, JEALSTI. One way that God lets us know that our "spiritual" experiences were of THE Spirit and not a deception (or a hot pastrami too close to bedtime.)

plsdeacon said...

Before I step into the pulpit I always pray "Lord, no matter what I say, let Your people hear what you want them to hear."

I have a a few occassions where someone mentioned something that they liked in my sermon, but it was not something I said.

Phil Snyder

Anonymous said...

Would you share the sermon with us? I know that I would appreciate reading it.

TLF+ said...

Anonymous, I don't have the added input of the Spirit to go with the sermon, but you can see the basic outline (this week only) at (click on the Weekly Homily tab).

Thanks, Deacon Phil - that is a frequent experience. What I thought was eloquent is "ehh" but the people hear what I didn't remember saying. God is great! The apostolic church is humorous in some ways - God using people to handle the treasure. And when you think of the inefficiency of preaching - all of the preachers limitations plus every distraction and any other impediments in the listeners - it is amazing that anything gets through.

Ruby said...

what we need to remember is that we just need to be so open to receive the Holy Spirit.
A few weeks ago i had to give my testimony to a church my pastor was preaching at, i was told i only had a few minutes to do this. What do you keep in and what do you miss out when you have such a powerful testlmony. Before i went up i just prayed a simple prayer that the i would be so open to receive the Holy Sprlrt and that he would be able to speak thru me. Apparently what i said was amazlng, dont ask me what i said as im not sure. :)