I have sat in front of a blank screen more than 2,000 times and prayed that, somehow, I could write something that would help someone. There are days when the screen seems to laugh at me and the Spirit seems to have utterly abandoned me. You know something? I write anyway. That happened just last week, but the Liberating Word that I wanted to delete touched someone and they circulated it widely on Facebook.
I sit down almost every week with a Bible and a pad and a pen, and I pray that, somehow, a sermon will be born. Sometimes the writing just flows, and I look at it and wonder from whom I stole it. Other times, though, I just sit there. I write a word or two and then change pens. Still, before I leave the office on Thursday night, there is a sermon because, on Friday, all the multimedia must be built to support it. Some preachers can’t sleep on Saturday nights, but Thursday nights are when I toss and turn. At least half the time I arrive at the office on Friday wanting to start over, but it is too late. You know what is coming. Yes, those are the very sermons that people say changed their lives.
Now, I know people like to say nice things to preachers, so I’ve never taken it very seriously. Heck, one Sunday at the Cathedral of Hope I had someone tell me how wonderful my sermon was, and I hadn’t even been the preacher that day! Flattery irritates me because my internal judge knows if a sermon hit the mark or missed.
It has taken me a long time to realize that the writer and the preacher are only half the story. The reader and the listener are the other half, and, perhaps, the third half (I know) is God.
When I started preaching at the age of 18, I promised that I would do my part if God would do the rest. That formula has worked pretty well. I’ve never neglected to do my work, and, every time that life got in the way or I drew a blank, God’s grace seemed to make up the difference.
Perhaps that is true for non-preachers, too. When you don’t know what to do or what to say, when you just don’t feel strong or inspired, do it anyway. I’m convinced that most of power of faith is faithfulness. Do your part and leave the rest to God. I bet that will be enough.
Rev. Michael Piazza