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 -|—


Don’t judge me when you see me seemingly doing nothing:
~ Sometimes I just need to sit and reflect.
~ Sometimes I just need to savor the Word just read.
~ Sometimes I just need to talk to my Savior.
~ Sometimes I just need to slowly sip my coffee.
~ Sometimes I just need to daydream about the ministry before me.
~ Sometimes I just need to mull over a conversation.

Sometimes I look lazy, sometimes I look lost but whatever the case don’t judge me because it’s in those times I can be the most productive. Many people don’t understand how a pastor works because how a pastor works can be so different from how we saw our parents work. But a pastor’s work can be just as taxing thus the different kind of work we sometimes engage in.

Today I sat in the corner at my favorite coffee shop for an hour or so; holding my Google tablet, sipping coffee and nibbling on a cookie.

And that was work.

My finger nails didn’t get dirty and I don’t have sore muscles as you know them but the pastor does feel the effects of ministry thus my coffee shop work.

And as I walked back to my office; breathing in the cool winter air, I felt refreshed and ready to do some more “traditional” work; work that doesn’t draw the ire of some.

But now you may say, “Work? You’re writing a blog post. How is that work?” To answer that fully I would have to write another blog post but I’m not going to do that. So what I will say in response will have to suffice for now:

Sometimes I just have to write…

And that is work of a different kind; one that exercises the mind.  But now I’m off and ready to go; thankful for the “work” I did today.  May God be praised in all I do and say; and not just sometimes but always.

The pastor -|—

Added vocation

This pastor/new daddy hasn’t been writing much here recently, but because of my new vocation, I have been posting more at my adoption blog that I write with my wife called:

Adopted as an Heir at

I guess this new vocation of mine is making some changes in my life.  There are a few things I used to do a lot but don’t do much anymore (i.e running). But I am still doing my “normal” pastor things:
~ I am preaching sermons and leading worship.
~ I am doing home visits with Holy Communion.
~ I am visiting the sick.
~ I am conducting premarital counseling session.
~ I am attending church meetings.
~ Etc, etc, etc…and those things aren’t going to change or fall by the wayside.

And neither will this blog fall by the wayside…but it might change a little bit.  After all…I do have a new vocation.

And as I reflect on my new vocation I have noticed a few other changes:
~ Sermon prep is different now as sometimes my comfortable routine gets interrupted or changed.  But more importantly I have another lens to look at the world through.
~ Worship leading is different especially when I look out there and see/hear my little girl.  I also wonder what she will think of worship as she gets older; will she grow to love God as her mommy and daddy do?
~ When I do visits, Mayah sometimes tags along…and I have yet to get a complaint about this 🙂
~ Counseling sessions…they go on as normal but now I have a daddy role to draw wisdom from when working with couples preparing for marriage.
~ Church meetings…this is where I need to leave Mayah with my wife so I can focus on ministry matters, but I usually don’t linger too long afterward as I am always excited to get home to be with my family.

Basically…I have a new “normal” (whatever “normal” means now).  And this new normal includes the most beautiful, precious little girl.

So…you will have to put up with this “new” pastor and his new vocation.  After all…this vocation is a part of me that cannot be separated…


…everything that I do has changed (and I believe for the better), since the heart of this pastor has been changed forever.

And praise be to God for that 🙂

The pastor -|—

We get to

I heard a statement yesterday that I hate to hear ~ but I also love it hear it:
“Eric has to preach tomorrow.”

“Has to”?  Really?

My response was immediate:
“I get to preach tomorrow.”

I hate to hear that phrase because it makes what I do sound laborious and tedious and that I really don’t enjoy it; that I would rather be doing something else.  But I love to hear that phrase because it gives me the opportunity to share my faith and the excitement I have in preaching and leading worship.

“Have to”?  Not even close.

Of course people smile and nudge me as soon as I correct them as if to say: “That is what I meant.” But part of me doesn’t believe them.  Even so…I had an opportunity yesterday and I am happy to say that I took it.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I am not trying to say that my job is any better than yours.  I am not trying to imply that my job is more honorable than yours.  I am certainly not saying that your job doesn’t matter as much as mine.  Sure…I get to stand in front of people and proclaim the Gospel in what I hope to be no uncertain terms.  But then again…so do you.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
[1 Peter 2:9-10]

We are ALL called to be ministers.
We are ALL called to proclaim Christ’s saving love.
We are ALL called to witness to the resurrection.

It’s just that my “job description” is a little different from yours.  We ALL have holy and important callings.  For God has placed each one of us in the vocation we are in for a particular purpose…so make the most of it.  Instead of saying (or thinking) “I have to go to work”, say instead “I get to go to work and share my faith with others.”  That is a holy and important work. Imagine the impact we could have on the world if we looked at our “jobs” as mission outposts for the sake of the Gospel.

God, please help me see myself as an instrument for your glory.  Help me to see my place in life as having a specific purpose.  May you be praise through my “work”. Amen.

edh -|—