I think we mostly agree that recycling is a good thing. It saves resources and reduces wastage. We may find it a hassle when we have to sort out our cardboard and paper from our plastics from our tins from our bottles from our garden waste from our food waste from our non-recyclables but on the whole it’s worth the effort. I have been surprised at how empty our non-recyclable bin bags are now that we recycle all of the above.
With my magic shows I like to vary the content and perform different illusions, but (unless I learn a new trick) I am choosing from the same illusions each time although I may adjust the way in which I present them.
But when it comes to recycling sermons and resources that I have previously used I am much more reticent. And I am wondering why that is. I think it is because I feel that each time I preach it should be prepared fresh for each group of people who are listening (and those who are sleeping too). That way God can say what he wants to those people without being limited to what I have used before.
Yet at the same time I wonder whether that is necessarily fair on him. After all we don’t re-write the songs and hymns we sing each time. We don’t re-write the Bible (heaven forbid!). Resources like the Alpha Course are used and re-used effectively without change. Now I am not claiming at my sermons have the same timeless quality as the best hymns and songs, nor that they have the same authority and authenticity as the Bible, or the universal appeal of Alpha. No, no, no. Anyone who has heard one of them will confirm that! However, perhaps I am also limiting God. Am I suggesting in my ‘bespoke’ approach that God can only speak through a sermon or resource once and that after that he is incapable of speaking further and that the sermon or resource is now an empty shell – like a bullet cartridge after it has been fired? That seems wrong too.
You may detect that I am in a bit of a quandary here. It is not something that I had to consider much in a local church as each week required a new sermon. The one time I was pushed for time and re-preached an old sermon someone came up and told me that I had, because they kept written notes! (They were not criticising, just observing). But in my trans-local role where I am not often in the same churches there is the possibility of recycling old sermons and resources. If it is laziness that is my motivation then I must resist it. But it could also be that the message God wanted me to deliver in one church is the same message he wants for other churches.
The ‘compromise’ I have reached is that if I am going to preach on a passage or theme that I have preached on before I will seek to use existing material in the same way that I use books and other resources. I won’t re-preach verbatim but will prayerfully see if some of what has been prepared before is of help this time. That is a form of recycling with which I am comfortable.
What messages from God might he be asking you to recycle?
Be blessed, be a blessing