Preaching Between a Glide and a Grind

Ryan Laughlin | May 27, 2015

Some Sundays, my first words feel like the first steps off a cliff, and the Holy Spirit lifts my utterances like an updraft and then sends me dive-bombing into the canyons of my people’s hearts. “How did you know?” they remark later. “How on earth . . . ?” Other Sundays are a grind, a fight for coherence from the first syllable to the last. On those days, I’m the one muttering, “How on earth . . . ?”

Most sermons, however, fall somewhere in-between a grinder and a glider (a “glinder” perhaps?).

Glide or Grind? 

I wish I could better predict on Monday whether my sermon will glide or grind on Sunday. It’s the strangest thing: the wackiest week will precede the most wonderful sermon. The next Lord’s Day, after a week of faithful preparation, ardent prayer, undemanding parishioners, regular exercise, and 70-degree weather, the sermon falls flat. “A-ha!” you say, “that’s God keeping you honest or, at least, keeping you humble.” Fair enough. I need plenty of that medicine. However, I’m not convinced that’s the only explanation, since the pattern is hardly that predictable: good weeks produce good sermons, too, and vice versa.  

It’s not entirely a surprise, though, when my words hit the atmosphere in fits and starts. Preaching a clunker is not like discovering a strange sound beneath…

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