When preaching becomes a challenge

Image: LineArtPilot/Shutterstock
Image: LineArtPilot/Shutterstock
By on October 18, 2016

(This article first appeared in the October issue of the Anglican Journal.)

I preached at the ordination of a dear friend recently. Feeling a bit too nervous to be comfortable, it made me wonder beyond the event at hand. After all these years, why is preaching not only hard, but seems to get harder? If it is something practised for so many years, shouldn’t it get easier over time? Do others feel this way?

My discomfort could be from a number of sources. The importance of the setting- as in my friend’s ordination-is often part of it, but, these days, I tend to feel nervous regardless of setting. Another concern is the expectations of those who hear: will I disappoint? Will they hear something that they will find helpful? Will my friends who ask me to preach be satisfied?

More and more, I am aware of the responsibility we have when we preach; how much today’s church and society need the application of God’s Word during these intensely challenging times. In light of this, I feel a tremendous weight of obligation and an equally challenging lack of capability. Without doubt, the grace of God in the Holy Spirit is, as Jesus insisted, our only hope when we proclaim the Good News. But today, my growing ache is the knowledge that I have often relied on my own strength, with a consequence of un- certain impact, quite often. Similarly, in the midst of undeserved help, there was impact that was gracefully and disproportionately good, despite my feeble efforts.

We need to pray for preachers, and preachers need to pray. This is a time when strong preaching is so needed, and a time when much of what we say seems to be fall- ing short of the mark. Yes, this will probably always be true, but let us pray that in this day and time, God will grace us with the dedication and study needed to be the recipients and catalysts of an operation of grace in the mouths and hearts of the preachers and the ears and hearts of the listeners.

 

Author

  • Mark MacDonald

    Mark MacDonald was national Indigenous Anglican bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2007 to 2019, and national Indigenous Anglican archbishop from 2019 to 2022.

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