When I work on sermons, I will spend hours working on proper wording and flow. There will be time to add illustrations and relevant personal application. But first of all, I want to understand what was actually being said by the original biblical author. Which also can take hours!
In a post modern world, what was intended by the original author is often considered secondary. Current interpretation of literature is the following: what the author wrote about is irrelevant or at most secondary — what is really important is what you get out of this, what you find and how you interpret what is written. Your ideas do not have to concur with the original author. As a matter of fact, you can be completely contrary to the original authors intent.
So, we can read the Apostle’s creed and interpret it to mean what we feel in our hearts – which can be totally different than the original crafters had intended. With a clear conscience two religious people can say they agree with the Apostle’s creed and yet believe totally different things (a little rant there on ecumenical ministerials!).
Now, I prefer to give respect to the original authors. I’m not so caught up on my own personal feelings that I want to disregard what has been said. If I disagree, I’ll say so. Nicely, but . . .
Therefore, back to the first paragraph. I think the most important part of sermon writing is not checking out psychology or sociology or demographics or marketing – although we should not disregard their discoveries. The most important part is to understand what the biblical author, under the inspiration of God, was actually saying. That’s hard work . . . tonight I’m working on the first letter Peter wrote! Been at it for awhile. And I sense I’ll be at for awhile longer!!