Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the spirituality of preaching

On writing:
“I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. The thing you had to force yourself to do–the actual act of writing–turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed to tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

” … I try to help them understand that writing, and even getting good at it, and having books and stories and articles published, will not open the doors that most of them hope for. It will not make them well. It will not give them the feeling that the world has finally validated their parking tickets, that they have in fact finally arrived. My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.”

“But I also tell them that sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time. And sometimes when they are writing well, they feel that they are living up to something. It is as if the right words, the true words, are already inside them, and they just want to help them get out.” From Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1994). (Hat tip Simon Holt).

This is so true. It’s the same with preaching. I type most of the stuff I say aloud word for word. It’s a discipline that has enabled the preparation to become a craft, an act of spiritual practice. I read and ponder. I drink coffee with people and listen. I come to Friday and I stare at a blank screen and I have no idea what I will say. I start writing. I am often amazed at what I articulate. At times I hate being a pastor and Christian leader, hate the pressures and the expectations, hate the exposure that comes from being articulate. Yet I would be a lesser person if I did not speak and write, because my inner world would be less clear, my spirituality more muddied. So do I pastor because I am selfish? Or do I pastor because the church really is gift and in my task of becoming more fully human I need it’s redemption?

Posted by steve at 01:08 PM

1 Comment

  1. Hi Steve

    Is that the feeling of your “heart burning within you” as you ‘articulate’ the Scripture?

    Comment by Randall — April 18, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

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