A while ago, I agreed to provide the sermon for yesterday's worship service at church. For several weeks, I have been studying, praying, and compiling thoughts and ideas. Late last week, it got to the point to pull it all together.
I took Friday off from work so that I could spend some serious time working on finishing preparing the sermon I delivered yesterday. By the time I went to bed Friday night, I had most of the sermon completely written -- two sub-thoughts were really all I had left to flush out. Plus tweaking.
Saturday morning, I woke up and started working on those two sub-thoughts. By about eleven o'clock, I had it all flushed out and was really happy with it. Yes, I knew that I would need to let it sit a bit and that I would be spending some time tweaking it, but a complete fleshed-out version of the sermon was finally completed.
So I spent the rest of Saturday cleaning up around the house. My parents and brother were on their way to stay with us Saturday night, and we were planning to have a bunch of people over at the house after church yesterday. Every now and then, I poked at the sermon a little bit with a minor change here and there.
My parents and brother arrived at about eight-thirty. We hung out together and generally had a good time. I ended up going to bed around midnight, after making another pen-and-ink revision of a few points in the sermon.
I woke up about six o'clock yesterday morning and went downstairs to put my pen-and-ink corrections into the computer. While the revised version was printing out, I went upstairs to take my shower and get ready for church. A little before seven o'clock, I was ready to go. Dad came with me, planning on being at both worship services.
On the way to the church, we stopped at Bruegger's and picked up a bagel and something to drink. I also got a bottled water to keep up in the preaching area for me to sip on before and after delivering the message. (This was definitely a good idea.) We were among the first people at church. The service didn't start until eight-thirty. I wanted to have enough time to make sure that everything was OK and ready for me.
After a little bit, people started showing up for the service and I settled into my seat, safely hidden behind the pulpit. We had a great service of worship and when it came time to deliver the sermon, I was really excited. After the service, I got to shake a lot of people's hands as they left church to go about their Sunday routines. Several of them told me that I should be a preacher. That's my dream. Someday, I hope to be able to do that.
Between the services, I stopped into my Sunday School class for a little bit. I wanted to be sure to hear the concerns and announcements. One of the class members had arranged for a substitute for me, so I didn't have to teach. That was a great relief, as I was really able to use a break between the services. When I wasn't in the Sunday School classroom, I hung out with my father, waiting for some of my relatives to arrive. He gave me a few good suggestions for my sermon, which I was able to easily incorporate in the version I delivered during the second service.
About half-way through the Sunday School hour, my relatives arrived. My aunt, my cousin and her husband, and my maternal grandparents all came. I really felt special that they made a special trip out here to listen to me preach. We visited for a while before I had to start getting ready for the second service.
After a little bit, my wife's parents arrived from Raleigh. I visited with them a little bit, too and went back to getting ready for the service. A little later, I noticed that ladyfirebird had arrived, which also made me feel really special. (She even had a few things to say about the visit here.) I introduced her to my father and he ended up introducing her around to my other relatives as I went up to make sure I had enough water and all my papers were in order. A little after that, my wife, her aunt, my mother, and my brother arrived. I went down to say "hi" to them, too.
During the opening hymn, I noticed a couple of my coworkers (current and former) and their families in the congregation. That was everyone that I was expecting to come specifically because I was preaching.
The second service was also wonderful. I especially enjoyed the anthem ("This World Is Not My Home") that was sung at both services. After the worship service was over, I got to shake some more hands and give/receive some more hugs. Lots of people from my Sunday School class sat together to give me support, too.
Once most everyone had left the church, I caught up with my family and friends and we all headed over to my house for lunch. My wife had coordinated a great get-together. We had pasta salad, potato salad, chicken salad, fruit salad, deviled eggs, pound cake, tarts, pimento cheese sandwiches and more. Yummy, yummy, yummy. And several hours of visiting with relatives and friends.
I wish everyone could have stayed longer, but eventually everyone had to go home. Most people left with some of the leftovers, too.
We noticed our next-door neighbors were in the middle of moving their furniture (they move into an appartment next weekend) and invited them over for supper. They thought that was a great idea since they didn't have any other plans. We thought it was a great idea since we had so much leftover food. Plus, it was great to visit with Anna and Heather, which we don't get to do as often as we like. Since they're moving, our visits will certinaly be even less frequent.
After Anna left, we gave Chatterbox (the Ringed Neck Dove) his antibiotics -- he's getting better about letting us give it to him. I took my wife to pick up her car (she left it at the church so there would be more parking available for our guests) and as she went to administer her pet-sitting duties for a friend, I went home and did the dishes.
Then, I watched my new favorite show on HBO, "The Wire," and headed to bed. A busy day to cap off a busy weekend. And one of the most enjoyable weekends I've had in a long, long time. It will be much better for me when I can make my living doing the work of the church instead of doing the software development work I do now.
For those of you who are interested, the full text of my sermon is available here.