Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Friday... But Sunday's Coming!

Tony Campolo's little book of the same name comes from a preacher he once heard. The preacher was talking about the cross, the shame, the seeming defeat of Jesus. The fact that all the disciples had fled. Hope seemed to have been lost. It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!

That defeat and sadness and disappointment of Good Friday is overturned when Sunday comes and Jesus emerges from the tomb, in new resurrection life. It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!

The application is that while the Christian life may be hard, there are many struggles, disappointments, sufferings etc as we follow in the path of Jesus, we're still in the pain of Friday. It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!

The preacher was very effective, Campolo reflects, in a church and with a congregation that joined in the little chorus. It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!

It's a memorable little phrase, one that has stuck in my memory in the ten or more years since I read the book. But these days it has a different resonance with me in the realm of ministry.

For the pastor, Sunday is the 'big' day in the week, when the congregation meets together for encouragement and praise, prayer and to hear God's word. The centrepiece of the service is the opening and proclaiming of the Bible, and that needs a sermon.

It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!

The preacher's week begins on Monday morning (or as early in the week as possible), starting to work on the passage for next Sunday's preach. Praying, reading, paying careful attention to the text, what it actually says, letting it flood into the mind.

As well as the conscious reading and studying, the text will continue to marinate unconsciously while driving, while eating, while sleeping. Thoughts continue to interrogate the text - what does it mean? What does it tell us about God? What does it tell us about people? What is the connection to the Lord Jesus?

Later in the week, with some problems and questions emerging, it's time to consult some older brothers, asking them to help in your sermon prep - guys like John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and some other commentary writers and preachers from the library. They will hopefully help clarify some issues, perhaps even give some hints towards structure or application.

By now, it is Friday morning, and Campolo's phrase echoes through the mind:

It's Friday... but Sunday's coming!
It's now time to write the sermon, it's Friday, and Sunday is not too far away. So on Friday mornings, you'll find me in the study, trying to write the first draft of the sermon, getting ready for the weekend, wanting to share what God has been saying in and through the Bible passage for the week.

Several months ago, I had a sermon written on the Friday morning. An adaption of a previously preached one, which seemed to be 'good enough'. But it wasn't. Early on Sunday morning, in that twilight period where I'm not sure if I'm sleeping or awake, suddenly it came to me - I needed to write a completely new sermon, and not depend on somewhere else's leftovers. So in an hour or so, the new sermon was written - although the hard work of studying and thinking and reflecting had already been done through the week.

It worked that Sunday; the sermon was well received; but I don't want to leave it until Sunday in a normal week!

And here we are again. It's Friday... but Sunday's coming. Time to write that sermon...

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