Today I am thinking through what I will say before and after I tell them to go ahead.
I speak two or three a year in front of the whole congregation. It is an excruciating delight. For me. (For them? I hope not so excruciating).
The pain is because I want to be clear. The pain is because I cannot speak as I used to teach speaking, three points, hopefully alliterative, all moving deductively toward a simple conclusion. The pain is because I don’t want to just speak in front of the congregation. I want to help them understand something from the inside, to be able to think and feel differently.
I want to help people emotionally understand the truth of God’s work.
That’s how I described what a care about a few years ago. And when I go back to that statement, written on the last of several photocopied pages, I realize that it still is true.
But it is painful to make myself stop and listen and feel and write, to move from a speech to a story to a moment of conversation between me and 200 or 400 people and God. Because somewhere in the middle of the process of preparation, I have to stop. I have to quit. I have to stop thinking about the story and I have to be inside the story, not as the author, but as a character.
And the word “excruciating” is the perfect word, having in the middle of it the same word as leads to the center of the service tomorrow. Crucifixion. A method of dying. An event which is celebrated tomorrow in the middle of our service, in the middle of my words. Somewhere between this afternoon and tomorrow morning, I have to abandon my life so that I and 700 of my closest friends can remember another excruciating delight.
Thanks for listening, especially if you are one of my friends who tells me, “I’m not religious.” I have to go back to writing now. Tomorrow I’m telling the story of a wedding on either side of the eating and drinking. Weddings and crucifixions. I have some work to do.