EMILY RUTH TAYLOR
Irreverent though the thought may be, sermons have always reminded you of introductory English lit classes. Here is the text. Let’s look at the text. Now here’s what I think of the text. Except none of the sermons you’ve ever been to lets you raise your hand at the end and ask for clarification. Instead of letting the congregation chime in with their disagreements or thoughts, your church gives you small sheets of paper to write notes on.
You can write notes about the sermon. Go ahead. Doubtless there are people sitting next to you that will be scribbling along dutifully. Your own mother was a scrupulous note-taker, jotting down key phrases and relevant verses.
Perhaps, though, the sermon that day mentions Biblical Numerology or the Global Warming Conspiracy. Or it is The Easter Sermon: the same one you have heard every year since you were old enough to leave the church nursery. Or -- even worse -- the pastor preaching it is the one you loved briefly and intensely for a month when you were a teenager and looking at him is difficult.
So instead of listening that morning, you write a poem. Poems are the best kind of writing to do in church. You’re not sure why, but you think it may have to do with the singing. Such wonderful hymns have been passed down through the Christian tradition: hundreds of years of verses. Sometimes the rhyme scheme and archaic language finds its way into your poems: How Great Thou Art!
Your church, however, may not provide note-paper for the congregation. You may write on paper you’ve brought yourself, comment cards, prayer cards, or brochures on how bring up Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior in a conversation with a nonbeliever. In case of emergency, use the envelopes provided for tithing. A mischievous impulse may lead you to drop your poem into the tithe box after the sermon. Resist this impulse only if you belong to a very small congregation.
You may write about anything you like. If you become stuck, riffle through your Bible for inspiration. Modern translations of the Bible tend to simplify at the expense of language. The King James Version is recommended: this translation has the best words. Supplication. Adversary. Vaunteth. Redeemer. Temperance. These are good words with which to start your poem. Now write.
When the sermon ends, tuck your poem into the pages of your Bible and stand up with the rest of the congregation. Pray. Hold your Bible close to your heart, and walk back into the world.