SERMON JOURNAL: Out With the Old; In with The New

I started a sermon journal in January 2013-my first attempt to intentionally jot down my thoughts and notes in a journal as part of sermon preparation. I took the journal with me to the ecumenical pastor lectionary (Bible readings for the upcoming Sunday) on Tuesday mornings and faithfully recorded the collective comments/thoughts of the participating pastors. It proved to be an exceptional art and theological reflection discipline as well as excellent preparation for preaching and teaching. This became ingrained in my life as a spiritual practice on several levels:
(1) Mindlessly painting the pages with watercolors and/or acrylic glazes in whatever (strange) assortment of color combinations I felt like at the time. It was a reason to experiment with different color combinations, white & black gesso, brushes, sponge painting and stenciling. I usually painted the backgrounds a batch at a time on evenings when I wanted to do art but didn't really have time for more than 15-30 minutes.
 (2) The sermon journal gave me an organized place to keep track of comments, insights, and reflections from ministry colleagues. The other participants rarely jotted notes down, but I found the journal helpful as a tool to refer back to, not only for the upcoming Sunday sermon, but also for the general notes that gradually accumulated in the journal on suggestions for books, music, and on-line resources for further study.
(3) The journal became a record of my preaching. I don't write out my sermons; rather I jot down bits of notes on post-it notes on the pages in the Bible around the Sunday reading. Those get thrown away Monday morning when I begin the next week's preparation, so I have not had a written record of anything I've preached. Until the sermon journal. It's not the sermon-but guts behind it!
 (4) I generally bring the sermon journal with me to church on Sunday mornings to review my notes prior to preaching. Occasionally I have read short passages from the sermon journal during preaching-usually to highlight a quote or insight from one of my colleagues.
(5) It has inspired me for general note-taking. Instead of the bland blank white page, I realize that I am more creative in general when I'm jotting down notes on a pretty page that has been swirled with colors. It also has been fun to have a simple place to experiment with different types of writing utensils: colored pencils, glitter pens, colored markers, and colored pencil on black gesso.
 Journal Selection: Whereas I prefer to use "altered books" for most of my art journals, for my sermon journal I prefer a journal made from thick watercolor paper that opens flat so I can easily write notes on the open pages. The examples here (2013 and 2014) are made by Coppell and are available at Hobby Lobby for $9.99. It is 5-1/2x8-1/4 (closed) and includes a thick elastic band to keep the book closed when not in use. I use the smaller version (3-1/2x5-1/2) for my portable all-purpose note-taking. As with the sermon journal, I pre-paint the pages of the smaller version and keep it in my tote bag/brief case. It is helpful to have the mini version ready & available to jot down notes during/after meetings, for general insight, or as a mini travel art journal for general experimenting.