A friend of mine once said, "God honors plans." (I think he stole that quote from Andy Stanley, but I'm not sure of that. ) I have been thinking a lot about planning and preparation now that I am the solo pastor, particularly when it comes to sermons. And I think I'd like to amend my friends statement - God honors preparation.
I say this because for the past several years, my sermon writing has consisted of reading a passage, thinking about it, praying about it...and waiting...and waiting...to see what "the word" for Sunday morning will be. Usually it would come at midnight on Saturday, or worse, 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning. However, the message that came was what needed to be said. God's Spirit moved. Sometimes through me and other times, I'm sure, in spite of me.
Yet, if I had my plans all laid out, I might have missed something that I was supposed to say or some opportunity to follow the leading of the Spirit, just to stick with my plan. Now, the flip side to all this is that maybe I am just rationalizing the fact I can't seem to get a sermon written 24 hours before I deliver it.
Its not that I haven't prepared - I have done the reading, meditation and prayer on the passage - its just that I can't seem to get the outline down until the last minute. Next week, I am going to a monastary with some friends, where I will attempt to begin the rumination process a little earlier than the Monday prior to preaching.
I am going to spend some time reading and reflecting on the lectionary for the fall through advent. I am hoping that by beginning my preparations more in advance, I can be better prepared for preaching and thus a better preacher. We shall see what happens!