Struggling with a Sermon
I have spent the last five years writing my PhD thesis on a few chapters from the Book of Judges. In 2021 the plan is to finish. So, as I approach the end, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned. I decided we’d work our way through the whole book as a church. And then I got ready to preach Judges 3 and I struggled. Who chose to preach through this book?!
I struggled with two things in particular. First, I had two illustrations dragging me in two directions. The first illustration that I was going to weave through the whole sermon was the TV series Killing Eve. I was drawn to this series because it explores an assassin’s life and confronts us with our fascination and repulsion with violence. At the same time, I wanted to talk about Bonhoeffer and his wrestle with the possibility of assassinating Hitler. It started to feel like I was cramming in too much, in the end, I cut the Killing Eve reference though kept the line about our fascination with violence. The new illustration became the real-life violent protests happening around the world. This is a great tip I learned a long time ago in a writing course: sometimes we need to be ruthless and edit. Cut illustrations out, even the ones you really love. You do this to sharpen the sermon’s focus. I realised that I wanted the focus to be on the question of violence and whether it’s ever ok to engage in violence. That helped me determine what illustrations I needed.