Though I start working on my sermons early in the week, the final work inevitably happens on Saturday.
I wish that my Saturday work involved just a minor tweak or two, but the truth is that on Saturday morning I’m still tinkering with the introduction or the conclusion or some other thing.
Here’s the thing: it’s work I enjoy. I look forward to it. I lose myself in it. And I sometimes wonder what my life will look like when I no longer get to do it. (My Saturdays will certainly be different.)
Every preacher apparently has a different routine. Here’s mine. After a fair amount of preparation through the week, I finally sit down to write it out early on Friday morning – applying “seat of pants to seat of chair,” as William Barclay once described the writing process.
I get to the church early and often stop at the 7-Eleven for the largest cup of coffee they sell. I’m not sure the caffeine helps, but by now it’s part of the ritual – and religious types are good at ritual.
Interestingly, I sometimes run into the Baptist preacher at the 7-Eleven – like yesterday, for example. Except he’s not heading off to church to work on his sermon. Friday is his day off, and it’s clear from the way he’s dressed that he’s headed to the golf course. He’s got a pastry in one hand and a can of Red Bull in the other. I ask him if his sermon is finished, and he smiles as though it’s the farthest thing from his mind. Hard to believe.
But I’m not jealous. I look forward to the hours that lie ahead. It’s one of the most enjoyable things I do. And I’m a terrible golfer.
When I finally hit the print button on Saturday morning, I do a fist pump. No one sees me celebrate, but it’s a good feeling. I could just as easily hop in the car and take a victory lap around the block. It’s hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction, the thrill of being able to do this strange and wonderful thing.
I get to stand up on Sunday morning (and the occasional Sunday evening) and say the words I think God wants my people to hear.