I have felt wretched about preaching for days. Would the words resonate with others? Would I deliver it suitably? Would I be doing God’s work?
As today is Trinity Sunday, my mentor (M) and I decided we would preach on the trinity with my address being on the Holy Spirit. After all, what could be easier for a first sermon than preaching on one of the most difficult Christian concepts?
After I had written my sermon, I emailed it to M who suggested one amendment which I readily used: I needed more of an introduction to the topic. I then read it to myself and amended anything that felt out of place or poorly worded. Once printed I read it into a voice recorder and listened back before making further, more minor, changes.
Despite all this preparation, and despite having run it past a couple of friends, I was very nervous before this afternoon’s service. I was pacing the vestry and fiddling about with everything I found – it must have been incredibly annoying for M!
My first part of the service was to read the story of the elephant and the blind men. In this story, none of the men have come across an elephant before and go to feel it to find out what kind of a thing it is. One man falls against its side and thinks an elephant is a wall; another feels its trunk and believes that an elephant is a snake; still another feels the ears and thinks an elephant is a fan; and so on. We used this story to demonstrate that God can be viewed in different ways. The congregation seemed to enjoy it and I got a few smiles and laughs as I read it.
My next task was to lead the prayers of adoration, confession and thanksgiving. Within these, I used a hymn as a prayer. I announced this but quickly realised that I was the only one without a copy of Hymns and Psalms!
Note to self: bring own copy in future or, better yet, put it on the print out.
Once I had announced the next hymn, I could sit down and enjoy M’s reading and her address on the Father and the Son. The whole thing was engaging and easy to follow. I really liked the way she used pictures and props to demonstrate her point – not just explain it. I need to think about how I can engage more of the senses in the future.
And then, the dread moment arrived when I had to deliver my reading and my address!
My throat was aching and dry and there was no water at the lectern. I kept having to clear my throat as I read.
Once the reading was over, I began my address and I felt a strength rise within me. I felt more animated, more sure of the words I was saying. As I looked around me, I could see people smiling and nodding their heads as though what I was saying made sense. And when it was over, when I had finished, I was so full of emotion that I was worried that I would cry!
I started us all off on the final hymn feeling full of God’s love and sang with gusto. This left me with barely any breath for the blessing so my final lesson learned was this: take the last hymn more steadily!
Good night and God bless x