Yesterday morning, I found myself facing something of a dilemma. I was due to preach at Christ Church Flackwell Heath (the church we attend, when we aren’t speaking elsewhere), on Mission Through The Bible – part of a monthly series that will span the whole year.
However, about an hour before heading out to church, I began to have second thoughts. If mission is about engaging with the world in all its hurt and pain, I could not preach a sermon which ignored the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan over the weekend. It wasn’t really my brief to change the sermon title, but I couldn’t contact the vicar as he would already have started the early morning communion service, so I decided to go with what I felt God was saying to me and set about writing a whole new sermon in a bit of a hurry.
The whole thing was compounded by the fact that I didn’t feel very well, having been up half the night with an upset stomach. Then again, had I been on peak form, I might never have stopped to reflect and just got on with doing what I planned to do.
Writing a sermon in a few minutes before the service is not ideal and looking back at it, I can see lots of rough edges that more detailed preparation would have smoothed off. However, there is something real about this sort of intense, ad hoc engagement with the world. This is what mission is all about. The Church didn’t get my polished sermon, with well prepared Powerpoint, but on balance, I think they did get a sermon on Mission Through the Bible, after all. If you want to listen to it, here it is, warts and all.