The glorious busyness of Lent is upon preachers around the world!
This is the most intensive season of the year for priests and pastors. With Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, multiple services for Easter, plus extra Lenten parish educational activities, there’s a lot to prepare for.
Before you feel overwhelmed, though, let’s do a quick review to remind ourselves what will help your sermon prep—and all your preparations—to be holy, from your heart, and as efficient as possible.
Here are three reminders, plus extra help for this hectic season.
1. Slow is fast.
If we want to get a lot done in a hurry, the best thing we can do is slow down.
When we’re in a hurry, adrenaline makes our heart race and breathing quicken, we feel the pressure of the clock, and our to-do lists feel impossibly long to accomplish.
Paradoxically, when we slow down with mindful breathing, praying, relaxing our jaws and shoulders, and deliberately moving our bodies more slowly, we become more aware of God’s presence. We’re more available to be nudged by the Spirit.
For preaching, then, take your prep slowly. Do your prep deliberately with plenty of breathing space (literally). That will help you hear the Spirit more clearly–and efficiently.
You’ll accomplish more in less time.
Slow is fast.
2. Don’t search for your sermon message.
The studies of creativity are consistent, and you probably know this to be true from experience:
Insights are found in the quiet margins.
More often than a “eureka” moment during intensive study, revelations are received upon waking in the morning, during a walk, or while washing the dishes.
It’s when we’re not asking “What should I say?” that we’re most likely to hear what the Spirit has to say!
Give yourself more “white space” than usual this Lent.
Turn off notifications. Go for a walk. Practice mindful breathing. And perhaps most importantly, make sleep one of your highest priorities.
It’s when you’re not searching for that pearl of great wisdom that it’ll be handed to you.
In other words, don’t seek—and it will be given unto you.
3. Remember the text is The best source for sermon inspiration
There are many great sources for sermon inspiration: commentaries, podcasts, books, and websites. We need these resources for our scripture study and to put the readings into context.
But there’s one source for sermon inspiration that dwarfs them all.
The text describes who God is and what God is doing.
The text contains God’s hopes for humanity.
The text reveals why we don’t believe or trust who God is or what God is doing.
The text has the blueprints for the reign of God to be built now, and here.
The text contains our sermon message.
If you’re wondering from whence your sermon is to come, look to the text.
[With] close, contemplative reading, the simple words on the page become clearer and more meaningful. It brings greater understanding and connection, something easily missed by a superficial, quick reading.
In the third Century, the Christian scholar Origen saw that if you read in the right spirit, you would find the meaning “hidden from most people.”
We will find God’s meaning when we not only go deep into the text, but most crucially, let the text go deep into us. The more you encounter the text, the more God abides inside.
Combining all of the above, with contemplative reading of the text, moving slowly, and creating plenty of “white space,” we’ll be primed to hear the slightest whisper from the Spirit.
Lucky for us, unlike Origen, we have electronics to give us an “assist” to “read” in the right spirit!
A Free Tool to Help you Listen to the Text
I created a podcast just for Lent so you can listen to the text.
“Audio Sermon Prep” is a (free) recording of all the lessons for both the Revised Common and Narrative Lectionaries, Lent 1-Palm Sunday.
Listen while you take a walk, drive, do the dishes, exercise, and especially as you fall asleep at night.
The more you listen, the more clearly you’ll hear the message the Holy Spirit has for your listeners.
Just as importantly, the more you listen, the more the Word will transform you until it is no longer you who preach, but Christ who preaches in you.
When you are transformed, you become the Good News you preach. You believe it. You live it. You model it. And you share it with conviction and joy.
Download the first two weeks’ recordings of Lenten texts here.
And if you’d like the rest, sign up to receive them by email.
Each week’s recorded readings will be sent two weeks in advance (e.g., Lent 3 will be emailed on Lent 1).
And if you’d like even more support in this busy season, check out our popular Sermon Bootcamps—returning for Holy Week and Easter!
Holy Week & Easter Sermon Bootcamps are Back!
Finish your Holy Week & Easter sermons with less stress.
Each week-long camp meets one hour/day online to guide your sermon prep in real time. You’ll work with a coach alongside a group of other preachers to apply BsP’s guiding principles to your work. By the end, you’ll not only have finished your sermon(s), you’ll have learned a new process you can apply every week to preach soul-filled sermons that connect.
Holy Week Camp: April 8-12, 2019, noon CST
Easter Camp: April 14 at 3:00 CST, April 15-18, 2019, noon CST (starts Sun. and ends Thurs. so you’re free on Good Friday)
OR $179 FOR BOTh
***All sessions are recorded so you can access the teaching and discussion even if you miss a session.***