Last month, I started podcasting my sermons (I apologize to any regular followers this week, tech difficulties prevented last Sunday's audio). This has forced me to listen to my recorded voice, which is far from a pleasant experience. Listening to my own voice bring memories from seminary to the surface.
Both of my preaching professors had distinct senses of humor, more so than my other professors. Maybe that's why they were preaching profs in the first place. It wasn't unusual for most of the burgeoning preachers to come in as a completely unformed slab of clay, waiting to be shaped. My teacher loved to offer quips about the art of shaping preachers. He used to say that the end of each academic year, he would travel to his lakeside cabin where it was completely quiet, and stand on his head for a week. He wanted all of the student sermons swimming around in his head to flow out of his brain, and out through his ears into the earth so he could come back in the fall to take in more sermons.
I couldn't ascertain whether my teacher called me Josephus because he had hope for me as a preacher, or that he was trying to make my name a little more interesting (I know the feeling). Toward the end of the term, he looked at me after one of my sermons and said to me, "Josephus, you have a voice that can weld." To this day, I'm not sure how to take that comment. Is my voice powerful? Does my voice bring metal together? Or is my sermon delivery as such that you need protective clothing and not look directly at it, lest you singe your retinas and/or flesh?
Putting sermons further out into the public sphere creates an interesting dynamic. Churches are public places; though as my teacher Pat Keifert has often said, we often treat our worship spaces like family homes rather than public places, much to our detriment. A message seems easier to control in the confines of a family home--but what of mission and the Great Commission?
Putting my sermons even more out in public still feels risky, especially when I'm trying to figure out if this welding voice of mine is a good thing or a bad thing.
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