mhgplRQYou know those cartoons where a person has a little angel sitting on one shoulder trying to get them to do the right thing while a horned-but-cute devil sits on the other shoulder giving them bad advice? I know it doesn’t really work like that, but it sure feels like it some weeks when I’m trying to write my sermon.

While there are no supernatural beings whispering in my ears, I do tend to carry on conversations between my responsible self and my I-don’t-care-if-I’m-43-I-don’t-want-to-be-a-grown-up self. The exact content of the conversations vary from week to week, but they generally go something like this:

Responsible Self: We need to start writing the sermon. It’s Wednesday.
IDCII4IDWTBAGU Self: Are you kidding me? It’s practically a week until Sunday!

 RS: We need to start writing the sermon. It’s Thursday afternoon.
IS: Well, maybe you’re right. . . . But wait! What about Mabel Rufflebottom? Didn’t she say her cat was sick? We better call her first!
RS: Dang. I should call her. But she’ll want to talk for awhile. And the sermon . . .
IS: The sermon will always be with you, but poor Mabel’s cat isn’t long for this world.

 RS: We need to start writing the sermon. It’s Friday.
IS: But we are writing the sermon. Look at these books piled on the desk. They are very sermony books.
RS: But we aren’t writing anything.
IS: And these web sites. They are all talking about the Bible . . . and stuff. We absolutely cannot write anything at all until we read . . . um . . . this one by Barbara Brown Taylor.
RS: Oooh! Barbara Brown Taylor! . . . That was good. Now we write the sermon.
IS: As soon as we watch that clip from Trevor Noah because we might want to talk about news stuff in the sermon but who wants to suffer through actual news right now? It’s depressing.
RS: Isn’t there a way to block YouTube from your computer?
IS: Not without blocking it from yours!

RS: OK. Saturday afternoon. It’s now or never for that sermon. And it WILL NOT BE NEVER.
IS: So you’re saying it’s now?
RS: Yes. Right now.
IS: Sure thing. After we check Facebook. Remember you posted that sweet picture this morning of your dog? It will make you feel better to see how many people liked it. You’ll be in a good mood to write.
RS: Fine. One peek at Facebook. And now we are writing!
IS: And just one YouTube video? It can be a sermon video.
RS: Here’s the deal. I’m setting the timer for forty-five minutes. We are absolutely not allowed to do anything but write until the timer goes off.
IS: Can we write whatever we want?
RS: NO. WE ARE WRITING THE SERMON NOW.
IS: I have to go to the bathroom.
RS: NO.
IS: Can I at least get something to eat?
RS: Not until we’ve written for 45 minutes.
IS: Then brownies?
RS: Fine. Brownies. After we write.
IS: OK. OK. Let’s write. Have you started the timer yet? Because we’ve been thinking about writing for at least five minutes–that should count.



Rev. Joanna Harader procrastinates writing her sermons for Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, KS. Sometimes when she’s putting off sermon writing, she posts on her blog at SpaciousFaith.com.


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