*(this non-Latin student's best effort at "post-sermonic depression")
Yesterday I had the great privilege and thrill of bringing the Word at my church. My text for the morning was Galatians 6:14, and the title was "Gospel Edges." I preached it at the 8 and 11 services; then at the 6pm I preached on "The Wisdom of God," largely from Proverbs.
Preaching brings me some of the greatest joy in my life. When I'm preparing for and giving a message, all the dials are lit up. (A little Forbidden Planet imagery, there.)
And so, for yesterday's morning sermon particularly, preparation was a happy challenge. I had to get the exegesis of the passage down, which (for me) wasn't simple. But more, to do it justice, I had to understand Galatians better as a whole. So I had to do a lot of study on each word in the passage, and a lot of study on the syntax; but then I also had to do the whole letter. I read Galatians through 2-3 times in Greek, and then again in several different English translations. I had to study difficult passages I wouldn't even preach on, but which would affect the sermon.
I say "had to," but the God's honest truth is that I got to. It was a joy. I loved it, and very much appreciate my dear wife making it possible for me to disappear into my study.
In addition I thought and thought about the passage, pondered, meditated, prayed. Talked it through aloud as I drove, trying to look at it from various angles.
So then I had this mass of information, and no sermon! That is, I could easily have stood up and rattled on and on, but that's not preaching. A sermon, to be of any use to anyone but the preacher, requires a focus and a structure. God was good to me once again, and a structure fairly readily suggested itself. And, as usual, I fiddled with it until the very last second, printed it, and boom! Sermon.
Then I have the great privilege of standing up and giving it to my brothers and sisters. I can say I gave it everything God gave me, gave it all I had, and then it's between God and them.
Go home, collapse for a (too!) short nap, get up, preach the evening sermon.
And now's the let-down.
Generally speaking, I've always had a let-down after preaching. I've just about always put all my heart into my preaching... but I always am so conscious of my sermons' imperfections, and (far worse!) of my own imperfections and inadequacies, my wrong attitudes and fleshly focuses, my ever-present me-me-me, when all should be Christ-Christ-Christ.
And beyond that, I'm so aware that, unless the Holy Spirit of God chooses to use His Word effectively, it's all just words in the air. My sermons carry no inherent power. So over the decades, I've preached to some folks and it's like throwing cotton-balls at a granite cliff. And when people do respond? You know it's solely because of God's grace in their good-soil hearts.
So there's always been a certain let-down.
But now? Now, it's much, much worse.
Because now, I do all that,and I walk away from the last sermon with nothing on my dance-card. I just did the vocational activity in the category that uses me the most and gives me the most joy... and I've got nothing to look forward to. It may be months before I get to do it again.
I'd had a real hope that I might be pastoring a church in time for my favorite portion of the year (Reformation Day through New Year's). But that did not work out, and nothing is on the horizon.
Instead, I go back to my IT job, asking people to reboot all day, having to learn things that (unlike Galatians) don't really interest me at all. It's a very good, stable job (though if Obama truly prosecutes his War on Success as threatened, it may be driven overseas), and I work with great people. I'm very grateful for it, and it meets my family's needs. But it isn't what I was made for. And so, especially at moments like this, I struggle to have a 1 Corinthians 10:31 attitude towards it.
So, a little glum today. Thank God for my blogs, it does give me an outlet. My dear wife's grateful for them, too — I think because it makes me a little less annoying at home.
But I really do need to be where I get to minister the Word on a regular basis.