At this point in my preaching journey, I find myself drawing on or being informed by the writings of theologian Howard Thurman, novelist Toni Morrison and poet Langston Hughes, as well as the musical literature known as the spirituals.
One night recently I was reading to my children a book about songbirds. There we discovered one of the most beautiful things in the world: a brood patch.
In addition to the biblical text, the most important material for me tends to come from our context and from what I discern in the lives, community and world around us.
Life is a sermon. Whenever I grab my pen and legal pad, I view myself as a chronicler of the beauty, tragedy, humor, anxiety and ultimate hope that characterize the Christian life. There is a wide range of regular sources for inspiration and example.
For the first year or two of my preaching life, I lived in a constant state of low-grade panic. Those Sunday morning deadlines were inflexible and unrelenting.
I read theology to understand myself and be reminded that I cannot ever hope to understand God. I get my deep meaning from reading dead Germans. Most everything else is entertainment. But it all affects my preaching.
Putting together words that can break through the sea—sometimes the cesspool—of words in which we live seems a Sisyphean task. I look for help wherever I can get it, so I read.
When I’m working on a sermon, I like to have wise women nearby. My favorite is the poet Nikki Giovanni, who tells it like it is.