Wednesday, February 09, 2022


Recently, I saw a FB posting that said, “My house is never so clean as when I’m working on a sermon.” I relate. Most of the time when I am working on a sermon it doesn’t LOOK like I’m working on a sermon. It may look like a walk, scrubbing the kitchen sink or painting a cat picture. It makes me wonder what writing a sermon is supposed to look like. I think of Seymour Cray, father of the supercomputer. ‘"I work when I'm at home," he recently told a visiting scientist. "I work for three hours, and then I get stumped, and I'm not making progress. So I quit, and I go and work in the tunnel. It takes me an hour or so to dig four inches and put in the 4-by-4s. Now, as you can see, I'm up in the Wisconsin woods, and there are elves in the woods. So when they see me leave, they come into my office and solve all the problems I'm having. Then I go back up and work some more."’(Time Magazine, March 28, 1988, Wayback Machine) His board chairman John ‘Rollwagen knows that Cray is only half kidding and that some of the designer's greatest inspirations come when he is digging. Says the chairman: "The real work happens when Seymour is in the tunnel."’ (Time Magazine, March 28, 1988, Wayback Machine) I don’t ascribe my sermon to elves, but to the Holy Spirit. However it seems to work in the same manner. I read the text, I read the commentaries, I sit with it in prayer and then I go and do something: walk, clean, paint, make, sew – whatever. And when I get back to it, another part of the sermon is done. I think it’s an additive vs. subtractive process. When I sit down at my desk to work on the sermon, I’m continually adding more and more. If I only did this, each sermon could be a couple of hours long. Not optimal. When I go off and do something with my hands, my brain is still working on the sermon somehow, but it’s like when you reduce a sauce on the stove and let the water boil off. Eventually the essence of what needs to be said remains. Diana Kwon on April 7, 2021 in “Scientific American” wrote about the research around this topic ( So my method seems to work – and my laundry gets done. And I’m not going to judge my peers when then clean their house OR they sit at their desk to get sermons done. It’s what works for you. Peace y’all.