Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Old Sermons (a reflection)

All my new sermons are stored at the church website found here. Since that archiving process only began in 2008, all my older sermons are not stored online there. Technically, I could still put them on the church website, but I'd rather not. It is too much trouble to ask for all the old sermons from all the pastors and guest speakers to complete those old series. My old sermons alone would appear rather out of place as miscellaneous pieces of incomplete series. So for 3 months since September, I have been slowly uploading all of them in this blog. Some came from a series in Proverbs, some from the 10 Commandments, some from Sermon on the Mount, some from John and some from topical sermons on the Body. I also have a bigger collection on 1 Corinthians (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 15a, 15c, 16). I had more in this particular series because it is a huge series and by this time (2007) my preaching schedule has intensified.

Reading through my old sermons as I upload them, I have a few thoughts.
1. My sermons used to be a lot longer. This gradual shift over the years is because I placed more and more emphasis on brevity, and making sure that just a single point is driven home. My old sermons are well-rounded, covering all angles possible. In some way it is like a paper for a theological college. But my newer sermons are more focused. I make sure that the listeners learn something new that Sunday morning, and I leave out the peripheral padding. I do appreciate my old sermons. They are a worthy analysis on a given subject (in my opinion). But they don't serve well as a sermon. A sermon should be exhortation based. Say something heartfelt and insightful.

2. I often realize that what I have written is better than myself. I know this because when I reread them, I learn new things from them afresh. How could I learn things that I have written myself previously? The reason is twofold. Firstly, I was reading from commentaries as I wrote. The further insights belonged to the scholars and did not originate from myself. Over time, I have forgotten about them. And as I reread, I learn these insights anew. Secondly, I believe it is the guiding of the Holy Spirit. The HS often gives me wisdom beyond my weaknesses. Even in a teaching session, I am often surprised by the analogies and memorable lines that is uttered in the spur of the moment. It is the HS at work, reinforcing the preparation which is of course also necessary.

3. I do have some extreme duds that I am too embarrassed even to upload here. Which really goes to show the amount of patience and kindness the congregation has bestowed upon me over the years. They have given me a chance to mature, and a chance to learn from my own mistakes. Many times, I am my worst critic. Well, if they have the graciousness to overlook my flaws, perhaps I should forgive my own blunders too.

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