Last Friday I skipped from Scales Chapel into Shelley Kuhlmeyer's office elated and talking a mile a minute that I just might be able to take "The Plunge" and preach on Sunday morning without sermon notes. I spent most of the day (and many hours prior) with my iPhone in Scales Chapel recording my attempts to weave together a sermon from the outline I gathering in my mind over the past few weeks.
"You have to talk it out to yourself," Michael said as he gave me advice on preaching a sermon without a manuscript. The metaphor he gave is a clothes line blowing in the wind -- You have a pair of pants, a shirt, underwear, a few socks, another skirt and you have a sermon! "What happens when one of them blows away?!" I questioned. "That happens," he replied, "sometimes you loose a sock or get them out of order."
This Sunday -- the plunge -- was a huge moment for me vocationally. I finally feel like I released my voice and some kind of freedom that I can't explain. I don't think I lacked the Holy Spirit prior to Sunday in my preaching -- but I felt a greater use, reliance, and energy from her in a very profound way. Most preachers spend a good deal of time prior to preaching praying that the Holy Spirit will work though them. Both of my homeletics classes at Vanderbilt taught us to pray with fear and trembling and this week those prayers were even more real. It was the perfect sermon to preach for the first time without a manuscript because it was an outward sign for me that I would not let shame -- not being good enough -- rule my life. I would trust in the grace of God.
I also knew I could trust in the grace of West End staff and members. I am so thankful for the many brilliant individuals that gave me so much grace and encouragement before and after the sermon and not just for my preaching but allowing me to be fully myself in all my work at West End -- I feel so grateful.
I am excited to go on this journey of continuing to become who God created me to be. I can not say THANK YOU enough to all those who are part of that process encouraging, guiding, and loving. I am honored and awed to be a pastor.