St. Michael and All Angels Day
It was on this day, as a Senior at Baltimore Lutheran High School, 15 years ago, that I gave my very first “message”. Couldn’t call it a sermon, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I have to say at the outset that as a 15 year old I had no business speaking at a chapel service – giving a homily /sermon/message/whatever– but as one interested in becoming a pastor some day, I was thrust into it. Looking back now, I am amazed at so much of what passed as normal back then.
Anyway, I got down to business, doing (in my mind) exhaustive research on the topic of angels. Types, names, number of occurrences, etymology, etc… I had become, in my mind, a self-studied expert on the topic. And I was so proud to share with Wednesday morning chapel ALL that I had learned. I thought it went rather well.
Later in the day, though, I learned otherwise. The religion instructor who had “gotten me into this” pulled me out of a class, and rendered a harsh critique of my efforts. “That was NO sermon” he informed me. “You didn’t share the Gospel. You didn’t talk about Jesus. You gave a lecture. But it was not a sermon”. And on this point, he was right. It was a hard lesson to learn, but one I will never forget.
Looking back, I don’t feel so bad about it as I did then. I never should have been put in that situation with so little preparation. I simply didn’t know what I was talking about. How could I, at that age? But I do believe God used the experience to help shape my preaching. To this day, every sermon I preach, I ask myself the same questions. Is this a lecture, or a sermon? Am I pointing to Christ crucified for sinners, or just spewing information?