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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

A Week of Study

Saturday, December 17, 2005

When I was at the Cokesbury store last week picking up gifts for Elders and Deacons who are rotating off, I spotted Fred Craddock's Preaching and decided to pick it up. Good idea. And bad idea.

Craddock is an irrefutable authority on the task of preaching the gospel to the modern world. The seminary I attended raves about him, but I was never actually made to read any of his work. So I thought, in the spur of the moment--that slice of time that retailers depend so heavily upon (even Christian ones)--that familiarizing myself with Craddock's main text on preaching would be a worthwhile endeavor. And so it has been.

But it has also made the process of preparing this week's sermon difficult, frustrating, and messy. Craddock devotes a whole chapter of Preaching to the study life of the minister. I was compelled by that chapter, and so all week long I've been getting up earlier and studying the sermon text(s) for this week along with Craddock's book. I'm learnin and re-learning things. I'm being driven to a higher standard of work in this area. But I feel now like I've had some serious light shed upon the shoddy habits of sermon preparation that I've been employing, so there is a tremendous burden to somehow apply all of this stuff to THE NEXT SERMON. It feels like the most important sermon of my life. And it feels doomed.

How do you carry out an activity and reflect upon that activity at the same time? That is the problem I'm facing. I should have probably waited to read this book (or any book on preaching) on a study leave. Reading it and trying to prepare a sermon concurrently has been straining. I'm not sleeping well, I'm anxious all the time, and there has been little joy in this task.

So what is the role of critical reflection in performing those tasks most central to one's calling? Can it be done in the midst of the task, as I've tried to do? I guess tomorrow will tell.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:30 AM


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