That was the simple message I posted on a friend’s Facebook wall yesterday as she prepared to preach her first sermon. It seems her husband might be more convincing when asking her to preach than I was when she and I served on staff together at another church.
This month, a lot of women are preaching first sermons. What might be equally as important, is that there are likely congregants and churches hearing and experiencing a sermon delivered by a woman for the first time. That is an encouraging thought.
It is Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching which was begun by Baptist Women in Ministry in 2007. Every February Baptist Women in Minstry encourges Baptist churches to open their pulpits to woman sometime during the month. According to their website (www.bwim.info) Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching helps churches and women in this way:
This is an opportunity for you to publicly voice your support of women in ministry, to be counted with other Baptist churches in celebrating the calling and gifts of women, and to remind your congregation that God does indeed call women to the work of the kingdom. But most importantly, this is an opportunity for your church to invite into your pulpit a woman who has never had the opportunity to preach.
At about 10:20 A.M. every Sunday, I shut my office door, cut off the lights, and pray. While I pray for calmness and clairty as I prepare to preach, I also pray for a few other preachers in particular, one of which just happens to be a woman. For me, this month has added to my prayer during these sacred moments before worship. I have been reminded me to pray for women who are perhaps preaching for the first time. I have been reminded to pray for the churches who have opened the pulpit to a woman this month. At times, those prayers have been for specific preachers and churches. Other weeks, the prayer has been offered in general.
This week, I embraced the opportunity to talk to my six-year-old daughter about how I prepare to preach when she saw me looking over my sermon notes on Saturday evening. I made it a point to talk to a grandmother and grandfather in our community that proudly witnessed the first sermon offered by their called granddaughter. They were proud and probably a little biased.
So, this month and every month, I say “Preach On, Preacher.” Preach on, Katee and Jamie and others who preached or will preach for the first time. Preach on, “Sister” Kim and other gifted women who preach every week. Preach on.