I like to prepare my sermons at Starbucks.
I don’t know if it’s the aroma, the accessibility of the entity producing the aroma, the free Wi-Fi, or all three put together. I enjoy doing sermon prep out of the office. Something about sitting in a crowded coffee shop with my headphones in, books sprawled all over the table beside me, and 13 windows open on my laptop just settles me. It’s a very enjoyable time every week as I embark on the journey through Sunday’s text each Wednesday morning.
This week something unique (although not completely uncommon) happened during this time. I was beginning my prep for the final message of our Sub-Urban Legends series, where I am taking on the Urban Legend “Marriage doesn’t matter” with Genesis 2:18-25. I was probably 10 minutes in when a major burden hit me about this subject and this text.
First some background on my sermon prep:
As I approach the text each week I go through several steps to prepare myself to bring the text “from the study to the pulpit.” Early on in this process is the step of coming face to face with the text in light of my context. My context starts with myself, then my family, and eventually spreads out to my people. My people (my church family who I preach to every week) are those who will be receiving this message from me. As the text comes through my heart/mind/life and I begin preparing it for my people, the specific burden on my heart (from the text, for the people) begins to develop. The burden varies from week to week. Some weeks, when a text really nails me personally, that burden is more acute for the people right away. Other weeks as the text begins to become clear through exegesis (“pulling out” what the text means through various methods), the burden will grow more intense.
Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
This was one of those weeks where, very early on in the process, the text cut through my soul and exploded into an incredible burden for my church. It was the kind of burden that you feel in your gut and in your throat. It was one of those weights on your soul that moves you to tears and prayer no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
The burden, like the text, deals specifically with the issue of marriage. Genesis 2:18-25 is the beginning of marriage. It is the text where God originally designed marriage. It is the first wedding ceremony. It is the creation of woman, and the inauguration of the covenant that God created for His image-bearers.
As I prepared myself to preach this text to my church, what I thought would be one sermon exploded into three. An issue that was going to serve as the final installment of an 8-week sermon series, combusted into a new 3-week series on God’s design and redemption of the marriage covenant.
God designed it, we broke it, and Christ redeemed it.