Breath of fresh air

I don’t have a sermon to post today. I usually post my sermon from Sunday. But this Sunday was different. I went back to preaching with no manuscript. It’s been over a year (from the beginning of the pandemic) that I preached without a manuscript. And I will tell you that it was a breath of fresh air – both for me and for the congregation.

The phrase “A Breath of Fresh Air” seems really fitting too, especially in the midst of an air-born virus.

I looked this up – the history of the phrase “A breath of fresh air” goes back to the mid-1800’s and comes from two idioms: “a breath of heaven” and “a breath of spring.” Both mean the same thing. That it is something new and fresh.

In one regard my preaching down in the aisle without a manuscript is not new. I’ve actually preached that way more than with a manuscript. But in another sense, it is new. It’s been over a year since I did it. There was too much stress and having a manuscript was one way to breathe easier during the worship service. At the beginning, I was not just leading worship, but also trying to make the technology work. That changed of course. And then when we went to hybrid worship, we had plenty of kinks to work out. My stress was over the technology. Having a manuscript wasn’t ideal, but it did give me a sense of relief.

But that comes with a cost. A manuscript is not my ideal way of preaching. I lose many things in exchange for a sense of calm. I lost the conversational style, the closeness with people, the ability to change things on the fly, asking questions and getting responses, and the connection with people. I also tended to get rather theological nerdy.

But not yesterday. I preached. And the sermon preached to me as well. I experienced the Good News – a freeing of the bondage of the manuscript. I encountered Jesus. And the sermon gave me life.

I hope that I don’t have to go back to it. I’m sure there will be occasions in which some sort of manuscript will be helpful (like when I’m not feeling well), but otherwise, I don’t really want to go back to it.

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