Preparing for the not-quite-expected

This season, I’ve been musing on what it means to prepare for the not-quite-expected. Not quite, but almost. More specifically, the always possible and almost expected invitation to preach, delivered about 2 minutes before worship begins. This has been a new and semi terrifying development for me since I began assisting on Sunday mornings at Manantial de Vida congregation in Río Seco, Bolivia, a few months ago.

After being unexpectedly invited to preach the first two weeks I was there, the pastor and I established an alternating calendar of me preaching one week and him preaching the next. This week was not my turn, so I had not planned or prepared to preach yesterday. Nonetheless, as soon as Sunday school was over, Pastor Natalio came up to me and explained that he had not been feeling well the past two days. Would I possibly be willing to offer the message?

Now, I love to preach, but this is far from my ideal situation. I like to take care in making time for prayerful study, reflection, research. But unsurprisingly, life doesn’t always accommodate my ideals. So, what then? In this case, I said yes. And while it was very much an impromptu event, I was not entirely unprepared. That’s what I mean about the not-quite-expected.

Bending to my new context, I’ve stepped into a new spiritual discipline of preparing for the very real possibility I may be asked to preach at the last minute. I look ahead to Sunday’s lectionary texts, and do a small-scale version of sermon preparation for my own enrichment. I ask the questions: how will the Manantial de Vida community hear this text? what word does it offer to them? And that helps me to step closer to them, to the reality lived every day by faithful Bolivians on the altiplano. So I am grateful.

What things are you not quite expecting? How can you prepare?


About Sarah

I serve with Presbyterian World Mission as liaison to the Andean region. This blog is a place to share stories, experiences, and observations, both my own and those of friends and colleagues and the occasional item of news.
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