Blog Entry: 10/28/2016
Blogging is a new thing for me, usually I just talk and ramble on while patient people listen. I know there is more to the interactions I participate in, but it is the conversation, the direct back and forth, that helps me process my thoughts and develop my ideas. Nothing happens for me in a vacuum. I've been asked to reflect on how I create sermons for Sunday worship. It is a process that involves paying attention to the world around me.
As an agnostic atheist I rarely start with sacred texts. Instead I start with what I've been reading and listening to. I reflect on the conversations I've had with friends, family and coworkers. I also analyze what has been running through my brain the weeks prior to speaking. Sometimes this is a song or video that runs repeat in my head. Other weeks it is news stories or social justice issues that emerge as themes. This all gets distilled into a title for Sunday that I submit on Tuesday before speaking.
Then I spend a few days compiling source material. I go back to radio shows I listened to, youtube videos, books I read, and conversations I had that relate to what I'm speaking on in a few days. After documenting where the ideas I'm working from are sourced, I then look for new quotes, writings , sacred text and historical quotes that relate to my subject. This usually leaves me with about an hour's worth of material to cut. Friday through Sunday morning I organize and reorganize my notes, shuffle starts and finishes, create an outline to follow and earnestly talk with my wife and closest friends about the topic. These conversations are important, they help me flesh out whether it will be a humorous or serious conversation with the congregation. These talks help me decide what works and what won't. I am thankful to have such patient friends and family. I then think about and design my delivery. i like to choose a children's story that relates to my message and prepare any last minute imagery or music that is important to the sermon.
The Sunday I speak, I like to show up early and prepare. I lay out the seating in the sanctuary in a manner that best reflects the conversation I want to have with our community. I want the sanctuary to be a place where I can see who I'm speaking to, and, when I encourage the congregation to participate, a place where they can also see each other. I write reference material on the dry erase board so people can research what I
have spoken about at their convenience. And then I prepare to speak with our community.
This is a process of listening and creating that, I hope, involves us all. My hope is that what I deliver from the podium will be useful to the growth and development of each of our members and community.
So ... that's my first blog. See you next time.