Substance over Form

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I preached last week and it went pretty well. That's saying a lot because I'm generally my own worst critic. I'm pleased with how it went.

The noteworthy thing is this: Of all the times I've preached, this is the time that I spent the least amount of time on form and the most amount of time on substance - I spent little time working on the presentation aspects; specific words, movements, gestures, etc.; and a great deal of time studying and dissecting and knowing inside and out, the scripture passages and the basic points that emerged.

I think there is something to that. When I'm alone sometimes I'll take a scripture passage that I've been studying and just start talking on it. I can usually carry on pretty well. But of course, when you get up in front of people there is the nervousness to deal with. In the past, especially when I was younger, I spent a lot more time on presentation and even trying to work in points that maybe didn't fit so well, but that were points that I wanted to make personally. As a result, I was spending a lot of energy on trying to remember the material, and trying to remember the presentation aspects.

It seems that having the material down cold takes away a lot of the nervousness. You'll always wonder in advance what people will think and how they'll take certain things. But I was not at all sweating trying to remember the material.

It actually helped that the passage, Matthew 22:1-14 - the parable of the Great Banquet with the added detail of the Guest being kicked out for not having appropriate apparel, was not super familiar to me. I'd heard the story, I guess the Luke version because the man being kicked out was new, but I'd never processed it. It was not one of those cases where instantly several points came to mind. In fact I went into the weekend still trying to get a grip on the passage. It had a lot of phrases and words that were pretty broad and made you wonder what Christ was really saying.

That's why I like that we use the Lectionary, and that's one of the reasons we use it - to guide us in covering the whole of Scripture rather than dwelling in the familiar places where our preconceived ideas reign.


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