Something has happened as I prepare for Sunday.
As a preacher, I spend the better part of a week preparing “a few words” for my congregation to hear on Sunday morning. These are never random words. These are words that grow out of a text, a scripture reading that I have chosen for the day, usually some months prior.
And so I study the text, I ruminate on it, and – please pardon the image – I marinate in it, letting it have its way with me.
And then, more often than not, it does. I find myself thinking, “How could I never have noticed that before?”
Maybe that’s the mystery of preaching.
Or one of the mysteries, because surely there is more than one.
Today, as I reflect on the story I’ve assigned myself for next Sunday – about two Jesus followers heading home to Emmaus after a disappointing week – I suddenly see something that I have never seen before.
My best insights, I confess, are seldom my own. Often I am prompted by something I’ve read or seen or experienced. And this week it was Debbie Blue, a preacher whose words can inexplicably jump-start the preacher’s imagination.
She refers to the Jesus followers in the story as “a couple of nobodies going nowhere.” And that’s pretty much all I needed, a new way of describing something I had seen countless times before.
I realized in that instant that this is God’s way – that, in fact, this has always been God’s way.
Me, I might have hired a cracker-jack public relations firm to get the word out. I might have networked with a few key people. At the very least I might have held a press conference and started a Facebook page.
Not God. God never does things that way.
Instead he found “a couple of nobodies going nowhere” and told them what had happened and what it meant and how it was all part of a larger plan.
And then he let them figure out how to change the world.
What’s exciting, I suppose, is that I see myself in them – a nobody going nowhere who now has a story to tell. I’m one in a long line of nobodies who over the centuries has figured out how to change the world.