Regarding the Sermon
I wish I hadn’t said that we’re homeless
Because we’re not
As you reminded me afterwards
At least most of us here
That even if it feels that way at times,
It’s not true, not fair
To those who are.
I wish I’d been more careful with my words.
I wish when I told the story of us standing there in the dark
That early morning waiting for the bus,
The homeless woman shuffling by with her hand outstretched asking for change
I wish I’d told it so the woman beside me offered not only change but her hand and
Said, “Hi I’m Dwinelva”
And the homeless woman said, “Doris”
Because as you reminded me afterwards,
Sometimes fiction tells it truer than truth
Would have made the point clearer that the naming matters,
The meeting of each other with hands outstretched –
I wish I’d told the story true.
I wish I hadn’t dismissed the expectation of heavens tearing,
Spirit descending, voice naming at his baptism
Because as you reminded me
It might actually happen, might actually be happening
In silent, covered over places
To us, even now, if only
We could hear
I wish I would have opened more wide
The possibility, the wonder.
I wish I hadn’t gone on so long about the disorientation of being here long ago
This place so far away,
The hugs instead of handshakes
Off-putting for this New England boy
Wondering afterwards if that’s why everyone today comes by and shakes my hand
I wish I could take it back, swallow the words.
I wish, once again, you didn’t have to complete the sermon
As you always do,
That it could have stood alone proud and sure
But as he told me long ago, no sermon is complete, no word is the last
It’s the gaps in air, the missing places,
The missteps and stumbled words
The ways that we can put it better or clearer
That we find a place
That we make a way in
That the conversation can begin
The reminder that we need each other
It was the point, right?
Not the perfection
But the imperfection
Not the final word
But the unfinished.
And yet here I am again
Long after you’re gone
Still standing here preaching
Talking to air
In an empty room
Trying to explain, again,
Clearer, so you’ll understand
Just how much I love you.
8 thoughts on “Regarding the Sermon”
Thank you Peter. I think this is how I feel after every sermon.
Peter: There are so many open doors in your poem, passageways that invite all of us to enter. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your vulnerabilities and modeling your openness to thoughtful critique.
True. Thank you.
What was the name of the girl no one coyld remember or pronounce?
Peter, dear, I say this with utmost love for you: “Quit apologizing!”
As preachers we do the best we can with what we are given. I truly believe that all sermons are To Be Continued. A really good sermon makes me think about it and wonder about it–forEVER. Yes, it is the unfinished, the imperfect that is so precious. Because, after all, doesn’t that describe each one of us?
I just listened twice to this sermon and I agree: We are homeless. It’s a freaking metaphor! When people are nearing death, I’ve heard them smile and say, “I’m going home.” HOME.
Keep on keeping on.
I agree with Debra!!! Holy smokes, stop beating up on yourself! You are a blessed child of God!
Peter’s question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus said we are to forgive others “seventy times seven”. That includes forgiving ourselves…I would think. Tomorrow is a new day.