Preaching

“Are You Holy Ghost Shy?”

During a training session at the New Church Leadership Institute, Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith posed the question: "Are you Holy Ghost shy?"

We were talking about engaging our mission field, and I wrote down the question, and kept writing as he said, "Will you let the Spirit move you–" and I was about to write "Yes!" and then he went on to say, "–move you away from your manuscript?"

And he may have meant it metaphorically, but I heard it the way I was most afraid to hear it as a good little manuscript preacher.

"Are you Holy Ghost shy?"

"Will you let the spirit move you, move you away from your manuscript?"

I have been avoiding those uncomfortable questions for the past couple of weeks.

But today, if he asked those questions, I could answer, "I am not, and yes, I did!"

13 thoughts on ““Are You Holy Ghost Shy?””

  1. Bravo!It’s such a struggle for those of us who love words to risk this…I’m a long way short of that courage at the moment, but I defintely salute you for yours. Hope it went REALLY well too xxx

  2. Hooray! I too, strayed further from my manuscript today than I have in the past.
    Not that that’s saying much, but I did.
    How was it for you?

  3. Awesome! I’ve only rarely been courageous enough to stray too far from the words on the page. Each time I have done so, I’ve been thankful that I did.

  4. yeah, how’d it go? I have gone manuscriptless a few times and found it to be exhilarating–both in the scary and exciting ways. I’m curious about your experience.

  5. At the end of the section about paradox, as I got ready to tell my own story, it felt stilted to use the pages of the sermon as a guide, so I stepped away from the pulpit (barefooted, as it happens) and stood in the chancel between the pulpit and the lectern. I had no clear idea when I would return to the text or the pulpit. When I finished my story, I realized I knew what I wanted to say about Moses so I kept going. I lost the transitional paragraph about the boys leaving home; it didn’t seem to fit and maybe it never did.
    The weak point was the ending. If I had planned to do this instead of being pushed out by the Spirit, I might have memorized the conclusion. As it was I ended on a question instead of the stronger declarative in the manuscript.
    Greatest compliment: Snowman said it took him five minutes or so to realize I hadn’t brought the text out of the pulpit with me, it was that smooth (until the end).
    So, all in all, good, but it’s hard to say “I’d so such and such if I’d planned this,” because I don’t think I would have planned, ever.

  6. Wow, that isn’t easy, Songbird. May the Holy Spirit give you courage to continue to move beyond your comfort level.
    By the way, can you give me some information on therapy dog training? That’s something we think may be good for Abby in retirement. Peace.

  7. In my sweet little corner of tradition to use a manuscript was verboten. So I never did, though I had one on the pulpit every week (most of the time). Charles Bugg gave us this experiment. Look at someone and say, “I love you.” Now, say to the same person, but reading it, “I love you.” What’s the difference? I know there’s security in a manuscript. But if you’re well prepared, God will do stuff you never dreamed of with your preparation. For a lot of those Holy Ghost stiffs who never think of their sermon till Saturday night, though, I say, “You’re going to have to manuscript every sermon you ever preached before the Lord lets you in heaven.” (OK I’ll have a few to write myself.) Congratulations!

  8. Good for you! I have drifted away from the manuscript (but not too far from content, due to time constraints). It’s hard for me to “step out of the pulpit”, since the pulpit is up a few steps, and it just feels sort of stilted to saunted down the steps.
    getting a smooth conclusion has always been the trickiest part for me, too.
    I’m trying to attempt a middle ground between writing as process, and having some part more extenporaneous — not an “all or nothing experience.”

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