It seems after every Continuing Education event i have attended I always leave with the selfsame feeling: why did I sign up for this? I always end up looking at the bill for travel, food, and lodging only to imagine a week on the beach or in the mountains, or at home drinking coffee and going to museums in the afternoon. Then I always feel guilty leaving my family behind. Rather than do this again I decided on a week of sermon preparation, a full week of exegesis. But not the normal kind, my best ideas come from interaction with culture, both high and low.
This year I decided to tailor my own continuing education week. It began this morning on the dining table. I parked my bible, the official RCL book, my calendar, LSU football schedule, the Saints schedule, and my own eclectic assortment of dates. I then started plowing through to assemble my sermons for the remainder of the Summer, Fall, and into Advent. The idea is not to write sermons but to write down my ideas so I have adequate time for study, reading, and further investigation as I am trundle along. Day one completed and I feel good.
The rest of the week: museums, battlefields, cultural venues, sights and sounds of New Orleans. I will have my camera and my notebook scouring for ideas, pictures, metaphors and inspirations. I will also spend a day or two going through my box. That's right my box. I am notorious, in Lori's eyes at least, for cutting out newspaper articles, ripping out paragraphs from magazines, and scribbling down lyrics to songs on scraps of paper. In order to save my marriage I dedicated a special box for all of these collections. The box is quite full and need of having a look-see. Now that I have my major ideas down for sermons I can start matching stuff from the box with future sermons.
I doubt anyone will issue me a certificate for this, but come this Fall I will thank myself over and over for doing this when I did. I dont even want to confess how many sermons have been delivered knowing more could have gone into them, or wishing i had thought to read blank title or listened to such and such recording, or looked at this or that painting...