What I Learned Writing a Sermon

So today, I finally finished my sermon entitled “Spiritual Journeys Through the Music of U2” and I’m fairly certain I’m ready to give my two performances at 9:30am and 11:15 at my church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent next Sunday, October 24th. (Shameful plug.) The script for the entire service is almost finalized. I’ve got my musicians; my worship associate is on-board; all systems are go. I’ll do some minor editing of my sermon over the next week, but the bulk is done. I’m ready.

So what have I learned from this experience? Other than the hard, cold truth that sometimes what we ask for is exactly what we get (I once posited that it would be nice if our church had some U2 music in the service… and the next thing I knew, I’d been asked to lead a service on U2).

Well, first off, working on this sermon has given me a greater appreciation of U2. If such was possible. And I guess it was. Over the last month, in search of sources of inspiration on youtube, I’ve found U2 music I never knew existed, an entire movie written on an idea Bono had (The Million Dollar Hotel which turned out to be a really good movie), and countless tour footage I’d never previously seen. I became infected with a great U2 fever. And now I’m attending two concerts in 2011–East Lansing, Michigan and Pittsburgh, PA. And, to make matters worse, I bought general admission tickets to the Pittsburgh show; I’m planning to spend all day in line on the slim hope that I can get a good standing space close to the stage. I long to repeat my 2001 experience in being about to see the band members sweat. And… my love for Adam Clayton has fallen to the wayside for an intense love/appreciation/jealousy for Bono’s lyrical talents.

Additionally, in writing this sermon–in having something every day that I had to focus on, even though it became at times the bane of my existence–I’ve rediscovered a new fervor for writing. Once this sermon is out of the way, I plan to turn my sights to my memoir. I can do anything, right? While writing this sermon, I finally purchased a netbook, which gives me the chance to get away from my house and do some serious writing. The change in atmosphere and getting away from all the distractions of home have made it easier for me to sit down and write. It’s time o get a move on with my goals. I need to write my memoir. I need to get it out there.

Along the road to writing this sermon, I actually have come up with an idea for a fiction story! I don’t know if it would be novel-length or a short, but the idea has to do with putting myself in the very big shoes of a rock star. It’s a workable idea and I’m not going to reveal too much but I’m really excited. It’s a rare moment when I have an idea for a fiction story and I’ve been actually kicking around two for the last month now. Once the memoir is written, perhaps I will again have time for some fiction? Can I make it as a fiction writer? Probably not. But at least it will be fun to do some writing.

Support. I seem to have a lot of that. Friends from church and elsewhere have turned up to support me in my efforts to do a sermon. Lately I’ve been undergoing a lot of change. My new job has had me doing many more presentations that I’m comfortable with. But, really, I think a person should do one thing every day that scares them (that’s not an original thought, I got it from that “Wear Sunscreen” song from several years back, but nonetheless it speaks the truth). I think I’m the type of insecure person who needs validation by standing up in front of people and letting it all hang out. Seriously, there’s a quote from Bono in U2 by U2 along those lines, something like, “You’re insecure, so you become the singer in a rock band.” It’s true. People like me should be forcing themselves out of their shells. They have a lot to offer the world and a personality to fill it. They–we–just need to believe in ourselves more often.

My mom always said I was a leader that no one followed. Probably true. I like to take leadership roles in things; my fear keeps me from doing it. Despite the fact that when I do step and do things, I quite often find I do a good job. To that end, I’m vowing with myself to do more for my church. I already do a lot for ABC. I should contribute freely to the communities that give so much to me. Life is so short. We get to carry each other, as Bono says in the song “One.” It’s not always easy. But taking the easy road is so much less fulfilling.

Still, one of the final things I’ve learned in doing this service is 1) I don’t think I want to become a UU minister (which was a thought I once entertained when I first became acquainted with UUism) and 2) I definitely never want to go to grad school. Granted, I’m sure that in writing memoir or a fiction story, if I were to ever get picked up by a real publisher, I would suffer the same stress that I have over the last three weeks. Still, I think writing an interesting speech is a completely different art from writing an interesting book. And I think I’ll stick to the book writing, such that it is.

I just hope I keep the momentum going. I’ve been forced to think solely about one thing for the last three weeks and it’s been stressful. I look forward to normal life when I don’t have the stress of anything in particular bothering me. Yet, I can’t use this sudden free time to let myself become lazy. I’ve gotta keep my eye on my goals. I’ll never get anywhere with my writing if I just let myself succumb to my natural tendency to do nothing. Momentum. Must keep it going.

I hope I don’t sound too full of myself with this entry. I’m not saying my sermon is the best sermon since Jesus preached on the mount. But, hey, it’s my story; it’s how the music of one band brought me home to health. They don’t even know I exist. I’m one of many who have probably found comfort in a few songs sung by a band I love. Still. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know how else I would have found the strength to walk on.

Anyway, it’s been a long three weeks but now I’m ready to relax for a few days and recover. And then… who knows what else? I’ve got stories in my brain. Songs in my eyes. Maybe someday I can fulfill a dream.

If I could dedicate my sermon, I’d dedicate it to Mike. Who unfortunately is the reason for all my stories right now. His death caused me seek recovery through writing. Once I get past our story, hopefully my heart will find more to tell. Until then, he’s my constant, urgent inspiration.

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2 thoughts on “What I Learned Writing a Sermon

  1. This is all nice. I read your blog from time to time. I’d personally skip the memoir writing part. If you need a new laptop to write it then you are not ready. Most great writers start by simply sitting down at a kitchen table with a pencil and using the back of opened envelopes. As a widow myself, no one is going to be interested in it. Seriously and especially if you write it the way you write these blog entries. Honey, you whine way too much. You always seem to come off as a whiny, needy, selfish, constantly in need of attention unstable individual who has defined her entire life by the death of a person she realistically only spent a handful of months with and hadn’t even begun to know yet. Who knows, had he lived you may not even be married to each other now. Take my advice, forget writing this memoir about the past and stop living in the past. You say you aren’t but your writing says you are. Your life is short – go do something with it. Stop looking to be coddled and doing stuff expecting to get praise from other people. Start giving of yourself unselfishly and kick this “I’m a young widow” stuff.

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