As a Pastor, when I am writing my sermon during the week to deliver that upcoming Sunday. I agonize, at times, over the specific wording, or how to make a point. I struggle with my phrasing so as not to be misunderstood. And yet, in all honesty, I have no idea what the people in the congregation are going to hear when I open my mouth and speak Gods Word. I know what I am saying, don’t get me wrong. That’s one of the benefits of writing my sermon out. I have a record of the words said. I have even gone and started recording the sermons, so that my wife, who is usually in with the kids teaching Children’s Church, can listen to it afterwards. But I have no idea what the people are going to hear.
Recently, I was preaching a sermon on Sin in our lives, how, when we are in Christ, we are Dead to sin, and the process of sanctification over the course of our lives (From Romans 6:1-14) We have a small congregation, (though maybe not compared to some who are reading this). We are averaging about 30 or a little more on most Sunday mornings. Its easy to see when there is a new person, or when someone comes in late.
In this instance, there was a lady who had not been there before and she came in a few moments late.
Most Sundays, there are deacons who lead the music, do announcements, lead in prayer, etc. So usually, I hang around back and keep an eye on things, greet those who show up late, generally do what ever needs to be done. This week was different, our head deacon, who is our worship leader, was on vacation. So I was leading the music and therefore, was up front the whole time, right from the beginning of the service. As such, I was not able to touch base with this lady before the service, and, as I am still relatively new here, wondered if she had previously attended, or was related to someone in the congregation.
The service went on, I gave the sermon, and I thought it went pretty well. After words, I was greeting people and noticed that people were talking to this lady, (Always a relief to see as the Pastor, new people being welcomed and greeted by the congregation). I was finally able to greet her and welcome her and she shared how God had brought her to our Church that morning. She was visiting a relative in the area and was trying to get to her home church on time. She realized she would not make it and in that moment, she passed by our church on the side of the road. She turned around and came into our church . She said that the sermon touched her deeply that morning and it was exactly what she needed to hear. That was why God brought her to our church. She was smiling and tearing up as she told me this.
At that point, others came over and joined the conversation so I was not able to get deeper details, but she was obviously touched by the service that morning.
As Preachers of Gods Word, as children obedient to our Fathers Word, our joy is not in man’s opinion. And, to be honest, if too many people say that it was a good sermon, I start to wonder if it was not rooted enough in Gods Word. But when we get a chance to see, up close and personal, how something we said, or more accurately and precisely, what the Holy Spirit said through us, and how it touches and affects someone, it is a really powerful moment. It is those peaks, those moments, those glimpses of God at work, that can get us through the valleys, those times when no one seems to be hearing anything we say or preach, when no one seems to be responding to God, and when it seems that we are just fighting a losing battle against the tide of the World around us.
God gave me that glimpse recently and it was powerful and refreshing and I have no idea what that young lady heard that morning, to have that affect, but I thank God for his Holy Spirit speaking to those whom He has called to be His.
For those interested, here is the audio of the sermon from that morning.
Let me know what you think!