This past Sunday I gave my first ever sermon at Jacob's Well. (for the purposes of this conversation we'll say chapel talks in school don't count) And my sermon was about... drumroll... Winnie the Pooh!
It was part of JW's series called "Godflix", in which we pick 4 summer movie releases and talk about where God shows up, even if they aren't "religious" movies. This year the movies are Captain America, Winnie the Pooh, The Help, and Harry Potter 7 Part 2. After last year's series I asked the pastors if I could help this year, and kept pesterin– er, *reminding* them throughout the year... Originally Greg asked if I'd preach on Harry Potter, and I said I could, but I'd much rather talk about Winnie the Pooh, since there's this new Pooh movie coming out. He was skeptical, but I convinced him to let me have a go at it, and I think it turned out well.
My normal process for writing a chapel talk (aka sermon, I guess) is procrastinate until two days before, write a rough draft, realize it's way too short and panic because I don't think I have anything good to say, then rewrite the day before, throw together the slideshow the night before, and then everything turns out wonderfully, get lots of compliments, etc. Now in all fairness I'm not pulling everything out of a hat two days before, I've always been thinking and pondering for weeks or months and have a fair number of voice notes already recorded, but still, it feels like waiting until the last minute.
Couldn't do that this time. Katy, who puts together the Sunday Papers (like church bulletins, but less "churchy"), emailed me on Tuesday saying she needed my outline and a couple other things by Wednesday afternoon so she could print the papers. Thus my schedule got accelerated - wrote draft 1 Tuesday night, panicked, met with Greg Wednesday morning (met with Justin and Dawn, two other JW staff people, earlier, and ran my outline by them, too), he offered a couple ideas but reassured me I was on a good track. Did a few more revisions then by Wednesday night had it pretty much done, sent the outline to Katy, and relaxed.
Did I also mention, Tuesday night before starting to write I went to the Disney Store and bought a stuffed Pooh bear :) He reminded me to relax and not stress out.
Thursday morning the JW staff meets to talk through the service plan for Sunday, and, if applicable, rehearse the sermon. I was invited and took off work so I could be there, and got to rehearse giving my sermon. Everyone was impressed that I had come with a finished product, because apparently even though it's supposed to be a rehearsal time, almost always they're still brainstorming ideas and haven't written their sermons yet :) Did a couple small revisions, but no major changes.
We also agreed to have bears of honey at each of the communion tables. Cute.
Saturday I finally had time to Google image search some Pooh pictures and send those to Peter, who was assembling my slideshow (since I don't have MediaShout, the presentation software we use). Greg and I had found a couple movies to include, too. I got my sermon prepped on my iPad and ready to go!
Sunday morning by accident I found a different video clip I wanted to use, quick downloaded and threw on a flash drive, and, very ashamed and embarrassed, asked Peter if we could include it. I know how frustrating it is to have people bringing stuff at the last minute, so I felt very badly, but he wasn't angry at all. Whew!
And then it was time to get up and speak! Speaking in front of crowds doesn't bother me, but having Mom in the audience is intimidating :) My friend Matthew was also able to make it, that meant a lot to me.
Everything went well. Which is interesting, because I never had my "everything goes terribly" dream. Whenever I have that dream, that's how I know things'll be okay. Plush Pooh sat up front during worship and my sermon. Sermon went well, didn't stumble too much, and a lot of people complimented me. I'm learning how to take compliments. It's hard for me. One friend in particular came up and something I said must have touched him really deeply, his eyes slightly watery, and thanked me for giving that message. So I know at least one person heard something valuable. Or another way of phrasing that, I know God was able to use me to reach at least one person in the crowd. Maybe [hopefully] more, but at least one.
There is a video recording and I'm trying to get my hands on it. Will post that soon, hopefully.