A Weak Sermon
by Rebecca Burtram
I wanted to write an awesome sermon. It was Mother's Day, and it was the final message in a series on a book that I wrote.
Instead, I struggled all the way through it. I was so disappointed because it felt as though all the time, energy, and emotion I had invested in writing the book had culminated in a last-minute sermon presented by an overworked, exhausted, worst version of me.
I could feel myself bombing. I transitioned awkwardly. I cried and told stories I didn't plan to tell. I was a mess. It was not at all the presentation of the message that I would have done if I'd had the time and energy needed to prepare. I have done so much better. I wanted to do so much better.
Then I realized, it couldn't have gone any other way.
Church planting ladies might understand multitasking better than anyone else. I didn't just have to write a sermon. I had to run a household, run a church, and keep up with my full-time job teaching. On top of all that, I spent the week leading up to the sermon as a single mom since Jon had to go on a last-minute trip to New York to repair some recent storm damage to our rental property.
Here is how my week of sermon prep went:
Monday- I arrived home around 8:30 PM from the Potomac Ministry Network Council (at which point had already missed Kaleb's soccer practice). I promptly realized Annalyn had a field trip we needed to pack extra supplies for, and Ella needed me to arrange rides for her to honor choir because Jon wouldn't be around to take her in the mornings. I packed supplies, arranged rides, and got the kids in bed. Then, I read the chapter I was preaching from in Our Broken Hallelujahs.
Tuesday- I taught all day, took Ella to ballet and Annalyn to tap, fed everyone dinner at 7:30, helped with homework, cleaned the house, edited a video for life group, ran a background check, sent follow-up emails to guests, and went to bed.
Wednesday- I taught all day, led a church staff meeting, took Annalyn to soccer, led our life group, and went to bed.
Thursday- I taught all day, went to Ella's honor choir concert, fed everyone dinner, helped with homework, worked on editing a video for the sermon and next week's life group, praised God because Jon returned, and went to bed.
Friday- I taught all day, attempted to get some hubby time by going on a dinner date, and fell asleep as soon as we got home.
Saturday- I woke up early to work on the sermon, thanked God for the soccer games being rained out, helped the kids clean the house, worked on my sermon, went to the movies with my family, worked on the sermon, made sweet tea for Mother's Day tea, worked on the sermon, and stayed up late...
Sunday- I woke up early to work on the sermon...
I walked into our school to set up for service on Sunday morning feeling completely drained and unprepared. I knew that if God was going to use that message, it would be a true example of God using my weakness for His strength to be made known.
I was broken, weak, and tired. My sermon was about God's ability to use our broken hallelujahs. I hadn't planned to be the living example of the point that day. Yet, there I was living it in front of everyone. I was the proof that our broken pieces are beautiful when offered to God for his use.
My main text was 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NIV):
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I didn't feel strong. I felt empty, spent, and ineffective.
Then, a first-time guest came up and said, "That was the message I needed today. That is exactly what I needed to hear for where I am in life at this moment."
I may have felt that I bombed on that Sunday, but I know God didn't.
Jonathan and Rebecca Burtram planted Redemption Church Charlottesville on Easter of 2016. Rebecca is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs and blogs about grace and imperfection at rebeccaburtram.com. She is passionate about helping others know that they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. If you have a church planting story to share with other CMN women, contact her at email@example.com.