Last week there was no post. I was busy writing other things… a sermon, in fact. It was a big sermon. I chose Isaiah 6 for my text, and started researching and writing back in October. It really was the culmination of everything I’ve been thinking about during those three months… so yeah, a big sermon, but somehow, surprisingly, I fit it into about 35 minutes, which is a reasonable length.
I said some crazy stuff and challenged everyone to take a leap of faith with me—to say “here I am, send me” with conviction. I’m praying that God will continue to work in the lives of those who listened, just as he worked in my life as I wrote.
One thing that went into my sermon that has continued to stick with me this week was this bit: “Which world do you see—a world full of the intoxicating nearness of God’s glory, or a dark and empty world in which everything is left to chance? Do you see God, and can you hear his voice?”
When I preach, I am preaching first of all to myself. I think most people who preach are like this. Keith certainly is. Although I wrote the part I quoted above, it continues to challenge me—especially as I was hit hard by adrenaline letdown after the sermon was over, and as I continue to struggle with not-being-in-Japan-right-now. Unfortunately, it has not been a great week…
My temptation at such times is to turn inward, like a pillbug, into a self-protective ball, but then I’m really not in a posture of listening or observing. If I’m going to thrive during these remaining four months in America, then even when I’m in my pillbug-like state, I need to be listening to God and looking for signs of his nearness. And then I need to get out of my funk and be present here and now, with the people who are part of my here and now—because God speaks to us in community.
If you’re interested, here are links to recordings of my sermon: you can listen or you can watch. (If you need any more incentive, I had the fabulous Mel McIntyre read an excerpt from The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald… complete with rolled r’s. Awesome book, awesome reader.)
Finally, for those of you who like books and such, here are some resources that have shaped my thinking over the past several months as I have been working on this sermon:
- I Once Was Lost: excellent book on evangelism to people of my generation. It’s not a method or anything like that, but rather gives a roadmap for how many postmodern people come to Christ… with lots of helpful suggestions for those who are walking with them. I wrote a lot about this one here.
- The Listening Life: about listening, mostly listening to God through the many ways in which he reveals himself. More about this one later, I think, since I’m still reading it.
- Introverts in the Church: I wrote about this one a lot in my last blog post. This book has been very helpful as I make sense of what I should and should not expect of myself and why. I also took the suggestion that I “lead as myself” when thinking about how I would put the sermon together.
- The Message Solo: This is a devotional book I’ve been using in order to learn Lectio Divina—an ancient discipline of praying and listening through the scriptures.
- The Princess and the Goblin: One of my favorite children’s books. It deals with the concept of faith in a way that was very helpful in illustrating what was happening in Isaiah 6. And it’s just a great story. And you can get it free for kindle!