One day in seminary, on October 10, 2011, I preached my very first sermon ever.
We were in preaching class on a way too beautiful Tuesday afternoon.
I could have been out enjoying the beautiful leaves, or writing in the crisp fall breeze.
But NO. I had to preach for a classroom full of students and one professor and I was NOT about it.
The student ahead of me finished their sermon, and after we offered our constructive critiques, Dr. Younger said “Sara, whenever you’re ready.”
“Well, jokes on you then, because I will never be ready!” I said in my head, as I mousily complied with my task.
I began my sermon and it really wasn’t so bad!
My peers didn’t look like they wanted to make fun of me at all, and Dr. Younger wasn’t looking at me like I was a giant fail.
I felt good up there behind that ginormous pulpit;
safely enveloped in a lectern-cocoon of preaching class legacy.
Barrett Owen and Scott Claybrook and Jane Hull had all preached in that lectern before me,
and standing in the footprints of great preachers as a learner that day carried me through the anxiety of doing this thing that I wasn’t even supposed to be doing…
and then I realized that, yes, I absolutely was supposed to be doing this.
As a music school flunkie, having given up on dreams of Carnegie Hall and concert piano performance,
I had found a new creative process in sermon writing and a new creative outlet in sermon delivery.
It felt like coming home after a very long trip, to the warm embrace of beloved family and the mouth watering smell of biscuits, gravy, and center cut bacon.
A few years later, on October 21, 2012, I preached my first real sermon in a real church.
Standing in the preaching footprints of Pam Durso and Gwen Brown, again, I felt like I was doing something I might have been created to do.
My parents came, my brother-in-law and sisters came, and my New Testament professor Dr. Slater came.
My friends from my home church came.
Surrounded by all the support I could ever need, I logged that day away in my memory as the day that I became a real preacher;
and also the day that my pastor, Gwen told me that while I would be a good chaplain in a hospice or hospital, my place was in the church,
and I was e couraged to think about becoming open to the possibility that God might be calling me to church work.
And today, as I celebrated my “best sermon yet,” according to my pastor; and my “best delivery yet,” in the words of his wife,
I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic and thankful for all the preaching footsteps that have gone before me: my daddy’s, those of fellow students and professors, pastors and mentors, and friends.
Today, I preached another real sermon in a real church behind a real pulpit; something I get to do roughly every other month.
Friends from my old church were there, and, as he was 4 years ago for my first sermon, my New Testament professor Dr. Slater was there.
It all began with a required preaching class I had absolutely no interest in, and continues on with opportunities to preach in real life,
a seminary bestie I get to see next week, a close personal friendship with my preaching professor and his wife,
and a call to church work with a congregation that loves to affirm preachers –
– male or female, old or young, seasoned or brand- spanking new.
I thank God every day for that dreading preaching class that wound up being one of my life’s saving graces.
I am what a preacher looks like!