This week I was blessed to be part of the North Carolina Preaching Festival in Raleigh, NC. I was honored to be part of the preachers for this amazing and life giving preaching event. The beautiful and intimate sanctuary at St. Mark’s UMC provided the perfect backdrop for three days of hearing, talking, and connecting around the preaching life. My schedule was interesting because I had my workshop on Monday and my preaching on Wednesday. This allowed me the opportunity to take it all in and be a participant as well as one of the speakers.
I love preaching! I love the process, the study, and the delivery. Every time I’m about to step into the pulpit, my knees weaken, my heart races, and my stomach turns — I feel the burden of bringing a word of the Lord to the people gathered. The creator of heaven and earth still speaking, still calling, still creating, and I am humbled to listen and to speak. Honestly, one of the reasons why I have not left pastoral ministry is that the call to preach is persistent, insistent, and consistent.
As I listened in on the amazing preachers heard (Tom Berlin, Nadia Boltz-Weber, Tiffany Knowlin, Brian Combs, & Audrey Warren) my soul was made good. With each turn at the Word hope was found again and again. With each cadence, voice, and turn of phrase, a crumb of the gospel made its way to my heart and life. When each sermon was over I marveled at the amazing preaching that is found in the community of faith, marveled that the promise of Jesus was coming true before me: the gates of hades cannot stand against this!!
I was also reminded of the importance of preaching in the life of the church. I became increasingly thankful for Grace Community and their commitment to make the word heard in incarnate ways. I was humbled again and again by the magnitude and finitude of the task. I was called again to proclaim boldly, humbly, confidently, and passionately for the good news of Jesus Christ requires nothing less.
During the difficult moments of pastoral life I wonder, is this was I’m called to do? Then the word of the Lord begins messing with me, prodding, convicting, calling, and compelling me to tell it!
It is then that I am reminded of whose I am, of who has called me, and who I belong to. It is then that I am reminded once again that the world needs the Good News of Jesus Christ and that I am blessed to be a story-teller of Jesus!