It has been a long time since I posted on this thread. This past Sunday felt like a sort of crescendo in my preaching that has been building since Christ the King Sunday. You can find the outline of the sermon here. I have outlines or manuscripts from most of the sermons between Christ the King and this Sunday, and I plan to post them on Reconciler's blog eventually.
I didn't want to preach that sermon Sunday evening. I did not want to preach it because for the first time I was preaching on something that I know I live into at best only in some small fraction of what I was calling us all to in the sermon. For the first time, as I prepared I felt something of the hypocrite. How do you preach something that you are unsure your own life exemplifies. And yet with such an overwhelming call and reality, how could anyone live fully into it, without also having attained perfection. So perhaps there is in the end something hypocritical about preaching the Gospel, for in the end if one is really preaching the Gospel, it will at least some of the times be a word one needs to hear from God, as much as anyone perhaps more than any one else in the congregation. Perhaps, knowing that what one is preaching is a word to oneself as much as to anyone else means that the preaching is not hypocritical. For a hypocrite is one who believes they have everything or attained a place of judgment over others and thus have achieved a perfection, but whose lives don't match their judgment. A hypocrite is blind to their own flaws.
All the same it wasn't comfortable to encourage people to open themselves up to Jesus Christ and Love, and allow themselves to be dispossessed of all they own even their own identities. In the aftermath this week I am struggling with sorting out how I am holding on: How do I seek to own myself, and things around me? How is it that love may release me from all ownership so that I may belong whole and only to God? I'm not there yet. What I preached on Sunday I have not mastered, in fact I am only at most a beginner, and perhaps I have not even begun.
I wonder if this is why some preachers stick to a certain type of repetition: stay with what they know, what they have achieved, because to do otherwise is to stand in the pulpit before God in fear and trembling. Yet, oddly enough in the preaching of this sermon I experienced such joy, and ecstasy that I have rarely experienced. As I preached none of this anxiety and reflection existed, only the word of the liberating power of a love that dispossesses of all we possesses, so we may live free in God and in the world. Now to trust that power and this love in each moment.