This blog title sounds a bit “epic,” huh?
Preaching at Mountain Brook Community Church on July 17, 2011, however, was actually quite monumental for me (even though it was probably not very epic for anyone else… and that is okay).
The text I was assigned (The first part of Philippians 3) was providential. The preceding week was the most furiously difficult several days of my life in terms of vocational wrangling—I was trying to decide whether or not to move my family to England for doctoral work. The passage in Philippians allowed me to work out in the exegetical task some of the critical issues at stake in the decision-making (in the text, Paul himself describes some of his own vocational struggles). The homiletical task of presenting the exegetical work to the congregation was also very significant for me. I did not realize until I was preaching that morning just how desperately I needed to work through—before my faith family—the struggles not only of the text but also of my own soul.
Something happens in preaching, to the faithful preacher and to the faithful hearers alike. The mystical power of God’s Spirit is at work in a sermon, in ways mostly subtle, but sometimes dramatic. That Sunday morning, I found my own life on the verge of a sacrificial venture while working through a text written by someone who had crossed the threshold of an even more costly venture.
Exasperated over the unworthiness of the message before the service, I wanted to flee to my truck and drive home before the service began. But like I wrote above, something happens in preaching. For me, my plans for England were solidified (just 3 weeks from the scheduled departure).
I was delighted, encouraged, and strengthened by the sermon’s reception. If any of you want to hear it, you can go to MBCC’s resource page here and click on the sermon entitled “A Christ-Centered Value System.”