An Unexpected Turn (in Antwerp)

It’s been a hectic week so today was the day for sermon writing. I often like to have it written on Thursday so I can use Friday as a day to rework and tweak what I’ve written or as a day for meetings, and working on other articles (like the one recently published in QL!). We went out for breakfast as a family this morning, an “unfortunate” consequence of having no coffee, eggs, milk, or oatmeal in the house.  After breakfast, which was tasty, I left the ladies to do their biding with a fellow by the name of Fred Meyer, or Freddie as his friends call him, and walked to Peet’s. What is it with all these names? Granted it is a Peet’s in a strip mall (rather than this, this, or this) but it’s still on some level Peet’s. (I think what you’re supposed to sense here is that I am subtly mentioning the fact that I miss Pasadena). Anyways, as is my coffee shop custom, I unloaded my mobile office: my stack of books, my legal pad filled with chicken scratch notes, my pen, my glasses, my headphones, my mouse — you get the picture, it’s quite a scene for the onlooker no doubt — all on a small round table in the corner and sat down to write with that high-octane cup o’ Peet’s.

First, I  worked out three queries I want to open with. Three questions that are meant to open up a discussion around what it means to be a community as Christians. This is a practice of opening with queries is something I’ve been doing more and more and I really like how it gets things moving in a particular direction; I’ve even had to rewrite a sermon as I delivered it a few weeks back because we had such a good discussion prior to the message. Next, I moved onto write my introduction, something I’d outlined on one of the sheets of my legal, now where was that? Then something happened. My mind went it a totally different direction than I had ever considered, an image — actually a video — popped into my head and so I pulled it up in YouTube, watched it, wrote it into my introduction and based my entire sermon on observations made from a short video (about a flash mob in Antwerp). I entered writing today feeling stilted and blocked, but after this happened I wrote freely, comfortable and with passion.

The message still has the same gist, builds on the same passage and utilizes a few choice quotes, but the entire structure, the central metaphor, and the energy behind it went in a direction I had no planned for and did not expect. I felt like God gave me the inspiration I desperately needed in a place that has so often been a place of inspiration for me. And now the sermon I have is one  I’m really excited to share with our meeting.

Here’s the video:

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Wess the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 thoughts on “An Unexpected Turn (in Antwerp)”

  1. oh my gosh, i have just spent the last hour with a smile on my face, laughing my head off. What a fantastic site. I am so excited to hear your sermon.

    Do re me fa so la tee…you tomorrow!!!!

  2. A great story!
    I don’t write sermons, but I write biology lectures. And I love that feeling of inspiration that makes the whole “story” work. Mine’s a bit more of “common grace” than your sermons, though, I suspect 🙂

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