Monday, November 12, 2007

Jumping Off the Cliff

One of the things that I have always admired in preachers is the ability to preach a complete sermon without notes or manuscript. This ability is something that I aspire to as I grow into my priesthood. In the past, I have preached two sermons without notes - once at a community Eucharist at Seabury, and once at St. Paul & the Redeemer, the parish in Chicago where I did my field ed. Both went very well. In fact, people at St. Paul & the Redeemer still remember the "Batman sermon" which I preached without notes. After that experience, one woman, a professional actress, told me that I should always preach without notes, that it is my natural preaching voice. But since then, I have not had the courage to do it again. Until yesterday.

Susan generally preaches without notes at the 8:00 service, but uses a manuscript at the 10:00 service. The difference between the chapel and the main church make preaching at 8:00 without notes more do-able, whereas the layout of the main church, which really necessitates using the pulpit for preaching, lends itself more to preaching from a manuscript (though it need not be so). At any rate, Susan has been challenging me to try preaching without a manuscript at the 8:00. As I was preparing my sermon for this past Sunday, I decided that I would do just that.

So, yesterday, I preached at 8:00 without my manuscript. I did prepare a "cheat sheet" with a few bullet points, just in case I forgot where I was going. But I left it in the Gospel book and didn't even take it with me as I stepped down into the aisle to preach. The sermon when great! The congregation really liked it and many people said they particulalry liked the delivery style. I felt really good about it and was not nervous at all.

At 10:00, I opted for the manuscript. That one also went well, but had a different feeling than 8:00. I actually much prefer not using the manuscript, as I feel I am better able to connect with the congregation -- it's more of a conversation and less of a "lecture." I probably will not always "go solo" at 8:00, as there are times when I feel I need to carefully craft my words. Hence, a manuscript serves me better than my poor memory. But I do think I want to try preaching without notes on occasion, just to keep it fresh. Who knows, some day I may even try it at 10:00.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm so (turn page) proud of you. (eye contact) Well done. (inhale) I never had any doubts. (pause for effect)