As a PK (pastor's kid), I could usually predict what my dad's sermon was going to be about the week after he came back from confirmation camp, annual Nat'l Guard training, synod assemblies, etc. or after he had just finished a book. Whatever was currently going on in his life made its way into that Sunday's reflections - and yes, that often then involved me and my siblings as well. Even now as I write this, I am rolling my eyes at his predictability.
However, its only half an eye roll as I have to stop and look within myself as well. For you see, I find myself doing the same thing. I might include a story or quote that was shared at our recent synod assembly, an experience from going to the Youth Quake with some of our 7-8th graders, a Facebook posting, blog or something else I've been reading.
It was just yesterday that I had my "PK half eye roll" moment as I began to share about one of the most recent books I've been reading. It was (almost) as if I was channeling my dad as I talked about the book. When I start to talk about a particular book, especially one that gives me a lot of food for thought, I feel as if I am trying to "sell" the book to others (too bad I can't get commissions for these sermonic book recommendations).
But the partial eye roll was not a "stop, you are becoming your dad" moment, but rather a different kind of insight or perspective. Sure, there as a predictability about these kinds of sermons from my dad. But on the other hand, as I look back on it this many years later as a pastor, I see that this is about much more than just sharing the current events of his life, but rather the ways in which his life and faith were impacted by that particular book or experience. It was his way of sharing his own journey of faith.
I thought about the kind of enthusiasm and reflections that others share about their own experiences, books, blogs or Facebook posts. This too can be how they are sharing their faith. And this is a wonderful gift that I have been blessed by through their sharing.
This is what faith and witness are all about - making those connections between the current events, books and experiences in our lives with God and how God is impacting our lives. It is about being deliberate in recognizing the connections for yourself and others.
In some ways, it is "easy" for the preacher because we are always on the lookout for sermon illustrations (and I've often contended that just about anything can become fodder for a sermon). We've been taught to make those connections so that we are ready for that week's sermon, if nothing else.
My challenge is to look not just for sermon material, but for the ways in which God is using all these tools and resources to get my attention, to draw me closer in relationship with him and to be a more faithful witness of the Good News.
What is the latest in your life? Where is God in the midst of it all? How might you share that with others?
BTW - the book I referred to on Sunday is "Holding your Faith Together: 5 simple steps to help bring your family closer to God and each other" by Rich Melheim. And no, I do not get a commission if you purchase it, but you will benefit from it.