Megan’s Sermon Preparation Recipe

Image1.  Thaw biblical passage in crockpot brain at least one week before “Sermon Sunday.”  Cover passage with prayers and turn on lowest setting.  Allow the passage and prayers to simmer, blend, and breathe.  Breathing time is essential.  

2.  Meanwhile,  puree thoughts, feelings, poetry, moments of life, and pop-culture references that relate to passage in your spirit and mind.  (At this stage, someone outside the kitchen might question this ingredient.  But this is one of the most vital parts.  Trust God and yourself for this puree.  It will be different each time–that’s what makes this sermon “home-made.”)

4.  Smother the passage and prayer stock with the puree.  Continue to allow slow simmer.

3.   When passage has mostly thawed, begin prep. work of other ingredients. Read and research what others have said about passage.  Discard what does not resonate; chop-up remaining exegesis, and stir in with the passage and prayer stock.

4.  Turn up the heat slightly and wait until stock starts a rolling boil.

5.  Once the stock is boiling, turn the heat to low.  Stir.  Allow stock to simmer and thicken.  (There is no set time for this.  Again, trust is vital at this stage.)

6.  When stock is thick, pour off remaining juice and ingredients.  

7.  Sample.  

8.  Discern the best way to serve this dish on Sunday morning.  Add any additional seasonings to enhance.

9.  Say grace before serving and sampling.

**This recipe for sermons preached for supply positions.  For weekly sermon recipe, see worship/sermon preparation recipes.

Weighing and Wrestling

It’s official.  I’m a lifetime member at Weight Watchers…again.  Again because I decided to join this winter from a fresh place.  Last time, 8 years ago last time, I had a different name.  A different life.  A different approach.  This time the processes has been much slower.  Much less dramatic.  Much more focused on making a true lifestyle change and not simply relishing shopping in a different section of a department store.  Skinny became like a drug to me 8 years ago and what I used to swallow with food I ended up running from with exercise.  Turns out thicker or thinner, I am still me and the challenges the I needed to wrestle with were there regardless of my weight.

This time I’m not going for thin.  I’m going for healthy.  This time I am working to call myself on when I’m swallowing or running from something I need to face.  This time I’m truly hoping it is a lifestyle change.  Judging from the last month I’d say that’s true.  As you may recall, I spent a month away from the gym and the scale.  Spent much of that time not having control over the food around me and also needing to navigate some tough stuff.  All said and done, I gained two pounds.  Not too bad.  Not too bad.

But what is really striking me today is how this whole journey seems to be marinating in my sermon crock pot.  As I ponder and pray over the story of Jacob wrestling with ish–a man?  God?  An angel?  (Angel–that’s the Midrash interpretation.)  At any event, somehow this has all been stewing in the same pot of my mind.  And I don’t like it.  Not one bit.  You see Jacob isn’t such a great guy.  He manipulates his brother into giving him his birthright, steals a blessing from his Father, and tricks Uncle Laban just about every step of the way.  He is one ambitious guy who may not step into the realm of murder and armed robbery but he sure isn’t  my ideal of ethical.  And yet, when I’m honest, I think I’m just a wee-bit like good ole Jacob.  I’ve spent time pretending to be somebody else.  Lord knows I did my share of manipulating, conniving, and competing with my sisters when we were young.  And, well, I’ve played innocent, dumb, or naive to gain an advantage.  And ambitious…yes I can claim that one too.

Sometimes I don’t like that I can relate to Jacob.  But as I sit with him this week, I think maybe it’s only as a recognize the Jacob within myself that I can actually begin to make different choices.  Maybe that’s the real blessing.  The blessing of being who I am.  Who we all are.  The blessing of admitting our own humanity .  The blessing of recognizing where and when we’ve hurt others and the ability to make amends.  I mean, let’s face it, Jacob wrestles with the Ish, receives another blessing and a new name, reconciles with his brother, and then lies to his brother again.  He may have changed a little.  He may be walking differently.  But he is who he is.  And I am who I am.  Making progress….not perfection.

Quotations for the Week:

24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him (Genesis 32:24-25)

Now I become myself. It’s taken  / Time, many years and places; / I have been dissolved and shaken, / Worn other people’s faces ~May Sarton

Oh Megan, Just Get Out There and Fail

Failure is not something I do.  Or rather it’s not something I do well or gracefully.  I think I have taken the Scripture passage “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) a little too literally.  Or perhaps the perfectionist in me uses this quotation as justification for replaying the old tapes in my head that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, worthy enough…you can fill in the rest.  Of course this attempting to be perfect bit and weight loss.  This attempting to be perfect bit and ministry.  This attempting to be perfect bit and life don’t seem to work out so well.  Just today at my WW meeting, my leader talked about how she worries about folks who never gain a little during their weight loss.  How are they really living?  How will they maintain? She asks.  Intellectually I get this.  And thankfully this go-round I’ve had a couple ups and downs with my weekly weigh-ins and seem to be able to both be honest with myself and continue to make mostly healthy choices.  (There was a time when I would simply not write to avoid the truth.  I think I convinced myself that unless pen hit paper the calories wouldn’t count.  This is sort of like assuming that unless I confess it to God, God won’t know)  Anyway, what I perceive as failure is not something I seem to readily accept or gracefully manage.

In addition to complicating the weight loss journey, this trait also challenges my ministry.  On any given day it can produce frenzied thinking, speaking, acting or the complete opposite–paralysis.  I can get so caught up in the how can I do this perfectly that I simply don’t do.  I write and erase.  I create and destroy.  My email inbox is filled with drafts never finished.  My box of greeting cards is jammed with greeting cards written but not addressed or sent.  My journal is filled with ideas that I struggle to translate into projects, plans, or paper.  Or at least paper that anyone else will see.  Honestly, it took me two years to start a blog.  And when I did, I couldn’t do it under the ministry I practice.  Not because people wouldn’t read.  Not because it doesn’t speak to my community.  (Actually my community of youth and young adults is primed for a blog)  NO, I haven’t done that because I wanted to practice blogging before I put something out there.  I wasn’t sure how to write this way.  What was blogging technique?  Could I get comfortable with run-ons?  Fragments?  What about the tech piece?  I don’t know how to size a photo or add a link or put in a sound/video file?  So, there you have it.  What you’re reading is my attempt to “Get Out There and Fail.”  (I heard this at a workshop a couple weeks ago, and I liked it.)

More important is the ding-dang Scripture passage.  Do you know that perfect in Greek actually translates more accurately as the word whole. Well, why don’t they say that?  And why do translations from the King James to New Revised Standard to the New Living Translation all use the word perfect?  Now, I don’t mean I wouldn’t still struggle with the perfectionism thing (I mean, I am me after all.)  But what I’m saying is that if I read the passage as becoming whole like my father in heaven, well that’s different.  Failure is part of being whole.  At least when I look back at some of my “biggest failures” those have usually been where I’ve grown the most.  Sounds trite a I know.  Cliche maybe.  But there’s a reason it’s cliche…it’s TRUE!  And well, if that’s part of how I grow more authentic, more real, more of who God created me to be, more–dare I say–holy.  Now this gives me something powerful to help replace my old tapes.  This is Good News…life giving, paralysis breaking, perspective challenging.

Quotations for the Week:

Be whole, therefore, as your heavenly Father is whole. (Matthew 5:48)

It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.  (John Steinbeck)

Supposing you have tried and failed again and again.  You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.  (Mary Pickford)

Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better. (Samuel Beck)