I’m a writer. I spent 2 years working in communications, 5 years as a full-time journalist and nearly a year with the occasional freelance writing gig. And while I’m always looking to improve, I thought I had the basics of this whole communicating-through-characters-on-a-page thing down. And then I began writing sermons. Pastors don’t tell you how hard sermon-writing is. Sure, you know many of them dread it, but I assumed that is because research and writing are involved – the things that are almost universally dreaded. I’ve discovered, however, that is not the case.
We refer to the message of Christ as the Gospel – as good news. And I truly believe that it is. But when presented with meshing the Bible – which is filled with strange and unruly and genuinely messed-up stuff – and the realities of the world we live in, sometimes it takes awhile to figure out just what the good news is. In order to find it, one has to dive into the messed-upness. News is only good if it holds value for the listener. That means the proclaimer of good news has to know what the bad is that the listener is facing.
In a world of shootings and job loss and heartbreak and sickness and five million other negative things, it can sometimes be hard to remember that there is, in fact, hope. Sermon writing causes the writer to examine what it is that s/he believes, to state and restate his or her own personal credo. Like the wonderful NPR series, I find myself affirming “This I Believe.” And as I do so, I find my own good news unwrapped again in the gospel story.
Perhaps this experience is simply because I’m a newbie – or even simply because it is me (my husband likes to remind me that I’m odd). It makes sermons the most difficult genre I’ve penned – but it also renews both me and my faith. And who can argue with that?