Well, we're halfway through this week and I didn't post anything last week, and it's time to sit down and explain myself.
Back in November, one of my former Kosin University students called me and asked me to do a sermon for her church. This wasn't just out of the blue. Though I left Kosin three years ago, Jung-hyun and one of her classmates and I have met a couple of times a year for dinner and conversation.
Actually, she wants me to give a sermon in English while she translates into Korean. I've never done anything like that before, and am not sure how it will go, but I'm willing to give it a shot. We agreed that it would be sometime in January or February.
You might be thinking that maybe she is trying to show off in front of her church, but I believe that her motives are mostly pure. You see, Jung-hyun was raised in an orphanage supported by the church she attends. She just graduated from Kosin University this year with a degree in English, and she wants to show her congregation that the education they gave her was not wasted. I'm sure there is some element of pride involved in this, having the connection to make the project happen and the ability to do it are fairly impressive, but as I said, I think that her main reason for doing this is to say "Thank You" to her congregation.
So I've had two or three months to work on this sermon. Quite a bit of lead time, I'm sure you'll agree. I asked Jung-hyun to choose a scripture, and she chose Revelation 3:15-16. As you can see, it's a bit harsh at first glance. And then you read it again, with a small window into the Greek, and it gets worse. The Greek for "spit out" is much closer to "vomit", a verb close to my heart these days. So I backed up, and decided to use a bit more context: the first three chapters of Revelation. That didn't work, because we would spend too much time just reading the scripture. So I settled for just the letter Jesus dictates to John to send to the church at Laodicea.
Can you tell that I am enjoying my powers of linking?
Back to the story. Two Saturdays ago I attended an evening worship service for the leaders of our church, and asked the pastor if I could give a sermon to practice for this one I have coming up. He said sure, and that the following Saturday would be best. I silently gasped, and as my brain screamed "NO! NO! BAD ROB! DOWN BOY!", I nodded my head, shook his hand, and said that would be fine.
So I spent last week writing a sermon.
I used to write a sermon about once a month. I counted up the sermons on my hard drive here, and found about 45. Not too shabby. Of course, I've looked at some of the early ones, and they're pretty lame. Like anything else, the more I did it, the better I got at it. That's why I excel at putting my foot in my mouth.
However, the last sermon I gave was almost a year ago. Since then, I have not had the opportunity to give a sermon, and writing a sermon is not something I do without the pressure of knowing that I will be standing in front of a crowd with some expectations. So I was a bit worried about putting together this one after such a long hiatus.
By Tuesday I had made some progress, and had gone by the church to drop off some stuff for our new co-pastor, Esther. Wonderful woman, I'll have to write another entry about her. I picked up a couple of commentaries, and spent the rest of the week writing. Friday night around 1:30 I stopped, pretty much satisfied. I actually didn't make any changes the next day, and delivered it on time to an audience of around 15-20 people. My pastors, Benjamin and Esther, both agreed that it was a good sermon, and gave me some pointers for improving it the next time around. This time I video recorded myself, because Horyon couldn't come. She and I watched it the next day, and she told me it was one of my best sermons.
And let me make this clear: Horyon doesn't pull punches with me on sermon critiques. She has handed me my head when it deserved to be lopped off in the past, as well as beaming with pride when I've done well. So I feel pretty good about it.
And that's why you didn't hear from me last week. This week my excuse is that I need to get a 23 minute sermon (I know, that's on the long side, but there's a lot of material there!) cut down to around 10-12 minutes. Because with a simultaneous translation, I figure it will take more than twice as long as it takes me to deliver it by myself. And if any of you have ever written stuff, you know that the hardest thing is cutting away your own stuff.
It will be all the more difficult because I originally wrote it as an outline, and need to give Jung-hyun a manuscript. I promised her a manuscript by this weekend, so don't expect to hear from me until then. And when you do, it will likely be the same manuscript that I'm sending to her.
Ha! I'm going to preach to you from the internet!
Yea, verily I say unto you, read Roblog, dudes!