There is a thought out there in preaching land that a good preacher only has six sermons in her. Those six sermons come out in different ways, using different words, different examples, different stories from scripture, but there are really just the six.
It strikes me that this may only be true for certain preaching styles, but I think it is certainly true for me. Now, you might say, ‘Okay Sare, if you’ve got your six sermons in the bag, does that mean that once you’ve written them and I’ve heard them, I wouldn’t have to show up at church again, because I’ve heard all there is?’
Actually, no. It may be better to think of them as themes rather than singular sermons. And here’s an example.
My six sermons I call lovingly…
- Oh, Shit! (What to do when things fall apart)
- Love-Love-Love (the Summary of the Law)
- Baby Steps (God only asks you to take the next largest step you’re capable of taking)
- Forgive everything
- Why are we here? (Grounding in the moment for funerals and weddings)
- Harry Potter (How this is like that, or what we learn about God from stories)
…And those are the six sermons that I know how to preach at this point in my life. Those are the six themes that I work hardest on in my own day-to-day spiritual work, the things I pray about, read about, meditate about, learn about. And for every set of Sunday readings one ore more of those themes are present. And so, every decent sermon I preach ends up being one of those sermons. Those six aren’t set in stone, but they are the things that I’m drawn to and where (to be terribly churchy about it) the Spirit speaks to me, and so they are the six for me at this point. And because my style is the way it is, daily study plus four to six hours of sermon prep on Monday, plus another two on Tuesday plus four or five days of marinating mean that on Saturday evening or Sunday morning I can stand up without notes and apparently give an off-the-cuff talk about ‘that thing you just hear from the gospel of whomever read by so-and-so this week’.
Aaaah, sermon prep. Weirdly, I adore it. And if you’re curious about the Monday sermon prep, I offer it to others as a .pdf over on TheExegete.com.