Sermon Writing in the Valley

My sermon writing routine involves walking downtown to my favorite coffee shop; seting up camp and writing while enjoying a beautiful cup (or two or three or, who am I kidding? A lot of) coffee.

(and there are other details involved here but I won’t digress)

In any case, I often get asked, “How do you stay focused while writing in such a public place?” It’s a good question, really, because I seem to get a lot more done here than I do in my office at church.



My quick answer is that question is the background noise serves as a calming and focusing agent. Sounds strange but that’s how I roll. I think another answer (the longer version) is that I am reminded of my vocation.

As I preach the Gospel on Sundays (and throughout my week) I do so in the midst of community; in the valley, not isolated from it. It’s through talking with people and interacting with the public and hearing noises that I am brought back down to reality where the Gospel desperately needs to be preached. It’s the “transfiguration on the mountain and then back to the valley” thing at play here. Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured before them on that mountain, but God doesn’t allow them to build three tents there. Instead, Jesus leads them back down the mountain, to the valley, where they encounter a demon possessed boy that the others couldn’t cast out.

That’s reality.

And so it is through these distractions that I think and pray through a text before and while the Holy Spirit spews out words through my fingers and onto my computer screen. Really, it’s a beautiful process. Praise be to God!

Case in point, I have had a few “distractions” already (including this blog post) that has inspired some word spewing onto my keyboard: People walking by reminding me of situations they are dealing with. A Facebook conversation with a person recovering from another surgery. The busyness of main street reminding me of the faith distractions of many.  All of these noises/distractions are “holy distractions”.

My church office is so quiet that I sometimes just can’t seem to focus on the Word and the valley out there. Sometimes you just have to get out in the valley in order to be reminded of who you are called to be. Mountain tops are great but we are valley people and so this pastor writes in the valley to the praise and glory of God; all the while enjoying  A LOT of coffee (which might partially explain why I can handle multiple distractions).

And so there’s your long answer to a short question, but being a pastor, long answers go with the territory 🙂

Happy valley dwelling and praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—