I was driving across the border into Canada to give a couple of sermons at a church in Toronto. The no-nonsense officer in the booth asked if my visit was for work or pleasure. She looked tired, perhaps bored, and wanted a straight answer to a standard question. But I paused.

Work or pleasure? After writing sermons for most of the Sundays over the last 30 years, I still don't know which word better describes preaching.

It is certainly a lot of work when it's done well. Every week I excavate the biblical text in a desperate search for the holy insight that will speak pastorally, prophetically and hopefully to the congregation. It wears me out. Don't get me started on the challenges of carving the sentences well, or the incredibly hard work of making delivery appear effortless.


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