My preaching professor always told us that there was something about the holy desk that changed a person. He urged us that if we ever got to the point in our preaching lives where we didn’t approach this holy desk with fear and trembling, then it was time for us to give it up and call it quits. The work of delivering a word from God is too important to take lightly.
On Sunday, I was so excited to share with my congregation about what I had been learning and studying that week. I couldn’t wait for the point in the sermon where I could share my thoughts, but I got to the pulpit and realized I started reading the wrong scripture. I was going to provide some context from about I Timothy and then move on to the main scripture passage in chapter 6, but I got so wrapped up in telling about what I had learned from the scripture passage that I forgot to read the scripture passage.
This isn’t the first experience I’ve had of getting flustered in the pulpit. The first time I was asked to read scripture in chapel in divinity school, I looked up trying to make brief eye contact with the audience and looked back down only to discover I had lost my place. When I started reading, I skipped a line and said aloud, “Oops I skipped a line.”
In my former life as a reading teacher, this was perfectly normal to articulate because thinking out loud is a teaching method that helps students realize that even good readers lose their places sometimes and if in our heads we can learn to recognize that, then we can find our place and get back on track.
But I wasn’t teaching.
I was participating in helping people tune their hearts to God’s heart.
This doesn’t mean that as ministers and worship leaders we don’t make mistakes. I just recounted what I would consider a major mistake on Sunday in my preaching, but what I am overwhelmed by is that the Lord still used me and the words I had prepared in order to touch and speak to God’s people. We are but mere broken vessels who make mistake, but still miraculously are invited to be a part of the spreading of God’s word. We don’t have to be perfect, in fact, remembering our imperfections and our humanity might be the best weekly preparation as ministers.
The holy desk, the holy word, the holy God need to change us every week so that we approach them with fear and trembling praying we don’t get in the way of the transforming work they do.