One of the things I have done for the last twenty five years is to keep an index of all my sermons. It's probably the only semi-exact organised filing system I have, but each is filed in date order, numbered and cross referenced Biblically on my computer. I did once have a great Bible programme where I could footnote the appropriate numbered sermon, but that was lost a while ago as computers got upgraded. Now I have a list, in Bible book order.
This system does mean that I can look at the readings for Sundays and see whether I have preached on that passage before. Often it works and helps me to get a bit of inspiration, but I am still amazed by the passages I have not preached on - probably because that was the Sunday I took off from parish ministry, say after Easter or Christmas or when the curate preached.
This Sunday's passage is a case in point. I used to use Advent as a time for a short sermon series in the parish, or to preach on the Advent themes. The referenced sermon was Number 5!. That was written well before I was ordained! well before any serious New Testament study had been undertaken, and only because an encouraging Vicar let me loose in the pulpit occasionally.
It made an interesting read. Preached not for Advent, but at an evening baptism service (by immersion) held at our local Baptist Church in Billericay where two of the young people were baptised. That encouraging Vicar must have had faith me in! Well, two things struck me on re-reading that sermon. Firstly how much content there was in it. Not the length, but the depth - there were quotes, and Biblical references and what commentators had said. In those days, there had been plenty of time to prepare - weeks rather than days, and so I had time to do all the reading around a text (almost too much!).
Secondly I was struck by how much heart was in the sermon, it was quite raw and nicely naive in places. Reflecting back I am aware of how context conscious I have become in my preaching style - not really cautious but aware of both audience and preacher in a different way, speaking to a particular group of people in a particular way. The passion is still there, but differently expressed. Maybe more head than heart - and perhaps necessarily so.
I have decided not to use much of my 5th sermon on Sunday, but will have to take a couple of hours on Saturday to write a new one. It will not be so rich, and it will not be so innocently heartfelt. I envy my earlier passion, that almost childlike faith that believed it could move mountains. I still do, but in a different and more rational acceptable 'adult' way.
What if we all allowed our heart to express itself in some way today?