Steeping the Tea, Steeping the Teaching

TeaSteepI’m an avid coffee drinker, but sometimes in the afternoon I enjoy a cup of tea. I was recently watching my cup as the teabag steeped in the hot water – what else does a retired pastor have to do but watch tea steep? It occurred to me that just as I steep my tea I had to learn as a pastor to let steep that which I wanted to preach or teach.

The unrelenting schedule of a weekly sermon or teaching was sometimes difficult to keep up with. It’s easy to find yourself hurrying and scurrying to prepare for a presentation that’s coming up too soon. What I came to realize was that I needed to study and reflect on a Biblical passage or subject for a message more than just a few days before delivery. Letting it brew and stew, or steep, for a longer period of time helped me to do more justice to that which I had to deliver. It allowed me time to reflect, to let what I was going to deliver impact my own life first, and to find fresh and creative ways of communicating the truth without resorting to clichés.

Lectio Divina, the quiet and reflective study of a small portion of scripture, is the spirit which I find helpful to use in processing the material that’s to end up in a sermon or teaching several days or weeks away. Turning my mind and heart into something like a quiet library rather than a bustling office or a noisy factory is more conducive to hearing the still small voice of the Lord more easily.

Then, too, I have often been amazed at how an insight, an illustration, or a practical application will seem to pop into my thoughts out of nowhere, when I was focused on something entirely different. This rarely happens when I’m hurried and harried in preparation for a presentation that’s too close for comfort.

It’s good to do what the psalmist did. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” (Psalm 119:15)

Yes, my tea and teaching have something in common. Both are better with steeping!

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