The business this afternoon is to get the sermon onto paper -- in the intervals of supporting the knitting group's Snowflake Tea, which will begin in a half-hour or so downstairs. In the meantime a lovely young woman is practising Chopin on the piano in the nave. (My office opens into the chancel, behind the altar rail--I have a prime seat for all sorts of wonderful music rehearsals. They remind me of the great text about "Behold, the lines have fallen unto me in very pleasant places..." Or possibly, "Behold, I am sitting in the catbird seat...")
The sermon doesn't usually take this long -- but this week it's been hanging fire. Part of the trouble is that even I can remember what I said about the Peaceable Kingdom the last time we passed through the lectionary. I'd just seen the Hicks painting, in its upstate New York home, bought the postcard and all...so I had a good time with that, with all the critters.
But this time, oh dear, what to say. Part of the problem with solo ministry is not getting to hear other preachers often enough...and after a time everything I put together seems to come with a terrible built-in echo factor, like a faulty long-distance connection: "I'm sure I've said all this before-ore-ore-ore...."
Woke up early this morning and lay like Scrooge and thought, and thought, and thought, until finally I decided to make this sermon a reply to last week's sermon; the paltriness of the returned exiles' little home-made temple, in contrast with the grandeur of the Herodian temple...and God's commentary on both those human experiences. The thing is not to be immobilized, paralyzed by either disappointment or awe...not to be deflected from the goodness and faithfulness of God, and his invitation to us.
I don't want to get too far into eschatology...Advent is coming, with the invitation to preach on the four last things.
Spent a pleasant hour this morning in conversation with our prospective Honorary Assistant. I am feeling very much heartened. I think this will work well.