Preaching might be my favorite part of being a pastor. Don't quote me on that. I might have another favorite part next week. But then again, maybe not. Because when I am preparing to preach, I love everything about it. I love that it's my job to read the text over and over until it's buried so deep in my mind and heart that I fall asleep with the words on my mind and wake up to them still there. I love that it's my job to dialogue with others who have wrestled with the holy scriptures, whether that's by reading a commentary or chatting with a friend over coffee. I love that it's my job to carve out space for quiet reflection and prayer, and then to share with my people what I'm learning from listening to God. I love that I get to write something down on paper, and by the spirit of God, it comes alive when I step to the pulpit on Sunday. I couldn't dream of a dreamier job. But, to be honest, sometimes it feels a bit like a nightmare... Like when other worries and responsibilities keep me far from that place of quiet reflection and prayer... Like when the words won't come, even when the text occupies my every waking thought... Like when the words do come, but they're controversial or convicting and I know I'll have a full inbox on Monday morning... Like when I can't read the words of Jesus any other way but as a call to nonviolence, or when I can't read the words of John the Evangelist any other way but as a call to resist the pull of Empire, or when I can't read the story any other way but as a cautionary call not to miss the Kingdom of God being inaugurated right in our midst... But then again for me, these are the sermons that spring from places of deep conviction, and I find I am preaching as much to myself as to anyone else. These are the sermons that rattle around in my mind long long after they've been delivered and filed away. These are the sermons that continue to transform me, and I hope my people. These are the sermons that make me preach on.
I had an opportunity to share one of these (short) sermons on a podcast recently. Jason and Alex over at Not Your Pastor's Podcast are interested in collecting and sharing exactly these kinds of sermons, and I'm honored to make the roll call. Here's one of my favorite short sermons about Jesus: