I’ve made some changes to start the new year before, but never anything quite like I have in 2016. Oh, things started normally enough on the first Sunday of 2016. I preached that morning, as usual – and delivered a passably good sermon I thought. Then the changes started. For one thing, the service ended differently. When the invitation song was over, I headed for the back of the auditorium as usual. As I passed my son, he looked up and whispered, “You better stay in here.” I looked around to see all of our current and past elders assembling on the stage. Being fairly astute, I decided to heed my son’s advice, and sat back down. If you were there, you know that Cindy and I were presented a beautiful Bible in honor of the years we’ve filled the role of preacher/preacher’s wife at Northside. We’ve got lots of Bibles, but none like this one. This heirloom is filled with the names of family, church members, and ex-members inscribed beside their favorite verse. It’s amazing to see the hundreds of names; each one provoking a special memory. We thank everyone who had a part in that special treasure.
Another change is that I haven’t preached since. I don’t think I’ve gone four straight Sundays without a sermon for over 25 years, and it’s going to take some getting used to. I believe that about one-third of a preacher’s brain is assigned to constantly processing the coming Sunday’s sermon. That portion is constantly looking for ways to illustrate, organize, and present a message. Even when it’s all “set,” it’s never set. Revisions and (hopefully) improvements go on until you step into the pulpit. So, if I seem a bit dazed, it’s because that third of my brain is currently wandering in the wilderness. (See, it just threw in a biblical reference out of habit.) Hopefully it can find its way to a new purpose.
The other big change is that I no longer get up and leave the house in the morning. I started working summers when I was thirteen, so I figure that I’ve been going to school or work every day except Saturday for about fifty-four years. Now after breakfast I go to the basement and work on Know Your Bible. “Change” is putting it mildly. Cindy hasn’t started looking for outside-the-house employment yet, so I must be doing OK so far. (Of course, it’s only been a month. So continue to pray for her.)
I’ll keep you apprised, but the changes are going well. Now, if we can just figure out where to sit on Sundays…