January 22, 2013
Written by Daniel Hazard

Excerpt from Psalm 19

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Quinn G. Caldwell

I start every Sunday morning sermon that I preach with these words from Psalm 19; I'm sure you've heard other preachers do the same. 

Of course it's a classic way to start, but that's not why I do it.  The real, secret reason I always pray this prayer is this: I have a terror of the blank page.  I hate sitting down to start a sermon and seeing that little blinking cursor on that big blank page; freaks me right out.  The anxiety used to drive me to waste hours surfing the Web or playing solitaire on the computer while I searched for a way to start writing.

Then I discovered that if I just sit down and type those words first thing, I feel significantly better.  I haven't really written any of the sermon at that point, but it turns out that a mostly-blank page is way less scary than a blank one.  I think of it as a sort of holy filler, a trick to calm me down enough to write.

Which is really not a bad way to think of it:  Don't know what to do?  Ask God for help.  Got no words of your own?  Use the Psalmist's; that's what they're for.  Paralyzed by the situation and don't know how to start?  Pray.  It is, I promise, a way better way to get started than surfing the Web.


God, grant that my every endeavor, the ones I know how to start and the ones I don't, might begin with you.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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