Weddings. Funerals. Consulting. The annual budget.
Faith leaders take on many responsibilities, but nothing compares to writing and presenting a sermon. It is a work that requires more than the ability to interpret, write and deliver a convincing message.
The ultimate goal is to interpret the word of God in a way that changes lives.
The effort includes hours of reflection, writing and editing. And the word count must be translated into a time frame that fits the duration of the religious service.
Father Cávana Wallace is a Catholic priest currently serving in St. Teresa Parish in San Diego, but on July 1 he will begin pastoring St. Timothy Church in Escondido.
Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in the Diocese of San Diego in 1992, he said writing a sermon is “a work of prayer” that seeks to “capture infinity.”
“First I ask the Holy Spirit for help,” Wallace said.
“I think about my ministry during the week and the ongoing events that surround us. Then I read, re-read and pondered the gospel passage chosen for next Sunday. I start writing without knowing how it will develop. I guess he’s a bit like a master chef, paying attention to the ingredients, which enhances the flavors, and the overall presentation. But the general goal is to show an encounter and union with Christ. “
Terry Wayne Brooks, a senior pastor who serves one of the city’s largest black churches in San Diego’s Bayview Church, sometimes writes sermons based on a theme, such as mental health awareness or being fearless in the faith. .
He uses Bible software to help him find references related to his ideas.
“I will read and take notes on each passage and story,” said Brooks, who holds a master’s degree from Faith International University & Seminary in Tacoma, Wash.
“I have to speak word for word with the language, whether it is in Hebrew or Greek, so I understand what the passage means. Then, I will start cross-referencing the scripts with the theme of my series “.
Brooks said he is challenged by the fact that what he studies has interest and value.
“But I do not need to say everything I learned,” he explained.
“One of my preaching teachers told me, ‘Give people a slice of cake, don’t give them the recipe.’ So, I have to keep that in mind. “Every week there is an editing process and when I study it, the easier it becomes to articulate in fewer words.”
Senior Rabbi Jason Nevarez serves Congregation Beth Israel, the county’s oldest and largest synagogue. When writing a sermon, he said that he sometimes turns to colleagues for feedback and that his best author is his wife, “a wonderful writer.”
Nevareth, who was ordained by the Jewish College of the Union-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and earned a master’s degree in Jewish Literature and Religious Education, also examines the time of year.
A weekly sermon may take hours to write, but important religious events such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur require more time.
“If we are in the days of the Saints, I would speak to the vast majority of the church and they are waiting for a message they can keep for next year,” Nevares said.
“I will probably start thinking about it for two months before I start writing. I will research it, sketch it and come and go many times to make sure it has an impact “.
Although believers have returned to live services after the pandemic, maintaining an online presence has become an integral part of communicating with faith leaders.
Father Wallace publishes sermons in printedaspreached.blogspot.com and Brooks has an Instagram account (@twaynebrooks) and is on Facebook (@Terry Wayne Brooks).
Rabbi Nevareth shares “A 21ag Century Rabbi’s Musings “at rabbijnev.wordpress.com
Sermons have entered the realm of social media and these carefully crafted words can be copied and pasted elsewhere. Sometimes, there is feedback.
When believers praise Wallace, he considers it “a moment of grace” and believes that “the Holy Spirit works.”
Pastor Brooks welcomes responses from the Bayview Church online Christian audience, which are helping him shape future sermons.
“I have the opportunity to see people’s seminars,” Brooks said.
“Someone will say, ‘This is powerful.’
In a divided world, posting comments on the Internet requires an increased sense of discrimination.
“Thousands of people can see (what I am writing),” Nevarez said.
“I want to make sure it’s worth distributing. We have the pulpit freedom and that means we can say whatever we want to say. But I’m not talking about politics. It is saturated every day, so there is no reason to bring it to the sacred time “.
Holy days ahead
Easter and Easter will occur in the coming days, events that inspire faith leaders to talk about the relevance of ancient writing in a way that resonates in modern times.
Pastor Brooks is a former athlete who “loves a challenge” and is looking forward to writing his annual Easter sermon.
“I want to make sure that a story that is over 2,000 years old and that everyone knows is coming to an end has to do with people’s lives,” Brooks said.
“The Bible is the living word, so it must speak to us as we live.”
In a Universal Easter Liturgy, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated with greater focus on ritual and graphic readings.
“I know very well that the death of Christ himself was his greatest preaching of love both for his own people and for all of humanity,” Wallace said.
“This is probably why during Holy Week, the universal tradition does not lend itself to excessive preaching. “On the contrary, through an ancient ritual, we enter the history of the chosen people and travel with Christ to Jerusalem and beyond.”
The Passover narrative is reminiscent of the time when God used Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayim, derived from m’tzarim, meaning “narrow places”.
“It’s a metaphor for the narrowness we create in our minds, like how we respond to the constraints around COVID or how our thinking about constraints can limit our capabilities,” Nevarez explained.
“The Israelites were heading for the Promised Land, but they did not know that there would be 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. We had a lot to keep at that time, and it speaks to the limitation or narrowness we encounter in life and our potential for freedom. The time of Easter, with the synergy of Holy Thursday, Friday and Easter Sunday, makes me think of the promise of our faith and our potential. What can we nurture in our faith that will help us overcome difficult times? “
Loutrel is a freelance writer.
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