08 March 2010

Only as Good as Your Last Sermon

On Wednesday at high noon a faux showdown will take place on the avenue. I will be preaching at SCAPC, as part of the Lenten worship series. My sermon title: Johnny Cash, John Calvin, Jesus Christ. (for the record I am disbanding my disdain for the Presbyterians, a replacement nemesis will be named soon. Why? I like the pastor at SCAPC too much). I first preached the "three JCs" sermon in 2001 at Athens Baptist but I cannot locate the sermon, so it will be a fresh sermon. I will preach this sermon reformatted on Pentecost when I add a fourth JC: John Coltrane.

Since arriving I have to spend more intentional time preparing, writing, and editing my sermon. How much time? I really cannot say, but in my view it is considerable. The reason: the church has a high view of the sermon and expects a well crafted piece of art (one of the reasons I was drawn here). I also spend more time because of the "competition." Competition? In Lime Rock there really was no competition, in my mind at least - considering LRBC was the only Protestant church in the village. But here folk can just as easy go down the street a few blocks and receive a quality and damn good sermon.

All in all I appreciate this environment, it is forcing me to improve my writing and delivery style. I have formed/am forming a checklist of items I have to have before I walk up the stage and stand behind the pulpit: a proper welcome, a written prayer, the words of assurance, order of announcements, & etc. Never in a million years did I expect this level of professionalism, but I appreciate it nonetheless.


patrich said...

As a resident in New Orleans, I found most Baptist churches to be suffocating. (My wife enjoyed attending a Sunday School class, Jason found identity with a youth group, and Melissa was happy in a children’s program-all in the FBC of New Orleans.) Yet, I was a Seminary professor and it was expected, (no demanded) that I attend an "approved" Baptist church in New Orleans. I found an escape from that demand by becoming a moving target. Some Sundays, I worked at churches outside New Orleans as an educational consultant for months at a time. On other Sundays, when I had no educational responsibilities, I attended St Charles Ave.Baptist, St Charles Ave.Presbyterian or the Jesuit's
Holy Name of Jesus on St. Charles Ave.worship services to hear some stimulating thought. On more Sundays, I went to the Hilton Hotel on the Mississippi River at the foot of Canal Street, purchased my copy of the Sunday New York Times, selected a fine Latin American cigar, and spent Sunday morning in the Hilton lobby reading the Times, smoking my cigar and listening to the New Orleans jazz music drifting down from the Jazz Brunch. This was a nine year Sunday pattern.

patrich said...

The previous NOLA reflection that I posted was circa 1970's.
Bill Rogers

G. Travis Norvell said...

Bill -- my wife says I dream to much of the Sunday morning routine downtown. I think your description is why more folk dont go to church here in this town. A few weeks ago I had to pick a speaker up from a downtown hotel on a Sunday morning. I saw several people engaged in exactly the activities you described. Needless to say my level of envy rose considerably!

there is a group called the God Squad comprised of myself, pastors at St. Charles Pres, Trinity Episcopal, and the rabbi at Temple Sinai. At my request we meet at the Columns for cocktails once a month. good group of people. I have met the SJ at Holy Name, good guy too. He came to my installation. My son goes to Holy Name.

hawk said...

I hope you will reconsider and continue with your disdain of presbyterians. I have never met a presbyterian that I didn't want to kick their ass. A few presbyterians have tried to reach out to me but it wasn't in God's plan, thanks be to God. Everything wrong with Anglicanism is rooted in that stupid TULIP. Presbyterians MUST Die!

G. Travis Norvell said...

Fr -- I have reconciled with my Presbyterian brothers and sisters. even though the presbyterians at union referred to us as BuTSoRe. I will let that go. Even though my best friend converted. I will let that go. Even though they pay their ministers more. I will let that go. Even though, on the whole, they have better architecture, prayer books, vestments, and publishing houses. I will let that all go. Even though if I had a dollar for every Presbyterian who informed me they were former Baptists. I will let that go too. The Presbyterians here are way too nice.