Preaching is just an absolute mystery. Kelly always asks me Saturday night, "Do you have a sermon?" Usually I say, "Yes, I think so." (I preach without notes, so having something on paper doesn't quite make it a sermon yet.) Some Sundays I get up and know the whole service is gonna be great. Usually I have no idea what will happen. Sometimes even after worship I don't know what happened.
This Sunday, preaching on one of my favorite themes (wake up) I just couldn't get from one point to the next very clearly. I felt I hadn't made much of the main point at all. I sat down and wished I could get up and apologize and hope people would come again for another try the next week.
But in the hours after the sermon yesterday several people said it was a good sermon or, more importantly, that it touched them. Most of them told me this in email so they didn't see my quizzical face. What made it good? I can't tell.
Sometimes it feels like preaching is like taking a walk in a wooded park -- lovely, interesting turns, fairly sure footing. Somedays it feels like walking a tight rope, out in the air holding onto barely nothing at all, wondering what will happen if I fall. That's how it felt yesterday. Except afterwards I'm wasn't sure if I got anywhere or not, or if I just left it all out there, hanging in the breeze.
It's times like these that remind me my preaching isn't really mine. I try to do my prep work, show up (in more ways than one) on Sunday, and let it go. And what happens then is always a surprise. At least to me.