This was a fifth Sunday of the month and a holiday weekend, so I knew attendance would be lite. So the sermon was set within a very stripped down service. I had intended to use matins on Sunday Morning, but when I saw the attendance, I switched to the prayer service that was used on Saturday night. There would not have been the voices to sustain the liturgical songs. Lesson learned.
In regards to the sermon. I made one big mistake, I think. I always try to come up with modern and thought provoking examples. Part of the theme of the sermon was the spiritual need to take risks – that we like staying in past success or fading glory. Those risks might lead us through the cross, but they are necessary when following Jesus. As one of 4 examples of people refusing to take risks to their detriment I used a current political example. Sen. Obama gave a great speach in 2004 that even filled this cynical man with hope. And his whole campaign has been an attempt to live in a recreate the Hope of that speach. I still think it is a valid example of our tendency not to take risks to our detriment, but I get the impression that two things happened: 1) many just tuned me out after that and 2) the political reference will be the only thing remembered. I put it in there becuase: 1) I thought it was a compelling current example and 2) it was a risk in line with the theme – a series of risks that included a direct call for the congregation to find the final needed Sunday School teacher for next week. I will try my best to avoid such references in the future. It was an unnecessary risk. Lesson learned.
Given that I still feel good about the sermon, but I know I could write a better one. It might be the cumulative effect of the two lessons above, but this is the first lesson that I’ll look forward too in three years. I’ve got more ideas and thoughts and a clearer understanding of the message. Too bad there are no mulligans in preaching.