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Pastor Michaele R.J. Wood

From The Pastor:

Pastor Michaele Wood

How To Write A Sermon

Many of us have wondered how a minister chooses on what subject to preach each week. I am going to let you in on my secret.  Most times, it begins with the Lectionary, which is a three year cycle of related Scripture readings from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a Gospel text and a text from

the Epistles.  A committee of theologians has assigned scriptures for each week according to the time of the church year. (you know, Lent, Christmas, Easter,etc). I do have to admit it may take some time and research to see how each is related.

Now lets begin. Having reviewed the lectionary scriptures, you have to choose one subject or a single thought on which to expound. This choice must proclaim the presence of God with us, teach the concept, and apply to current situations in the world, the congregation and assist in personal growth. This is not as easy as it sounds. 

First - much prayer.  After all, if you are going to speak for God you mightwant to know what God wants you to say.  That means you must take time to listen, not just talk.

Second - choose how to present the message God wants the people to hear. Where do you want it to take your listeners?  How will you get there?  Is it an historical account or a story of how God deals with humanity?  Is it a teaching for personal growth or edification?  Perhaps it is an admonition to know and praise God. If you have never written a sermon before I will warn you, it will challenge your life first.  If the message does nothing for you it will not reach the people either. Go back to step one.

Next we begin to prepare the Word of life for the people of God.  Have you ever cooked a holiday meal for your extended family of say about 30 people? Everyone in the family has dietary restrictions, allergies and preferences.  There are milk-babies, vegetarians, vegan and meat-eaters. You must be

sure the meal is nutritious for all and really delicious.  It has to be plated beautifully and served on time, on real china, each course in proper order - never dessert first. There must be something for the infant as well as the oldest person in the room.  Everyone wants to help but they have their own recipes and want to enlighten you on the spices you need in each dish you serve.  You listen but mostly there is confusion and people getting in each other's way but all with the best of intentions.  

Finally, Uncle Marty enters the kitchen to declare what is correct in each dish as he sees it.  He owns several successful catering businesses in cities across the world.  He trains world-class chefs.  He knows cooking. He likes that you are using his recipes and whatever comes out your kitchen will please him, especially if there are leftovers for him to take home.  With Uncle Marty’s blessing the kitchen thins out and dishes appear on the table for all to enjoy.  At the end of the meal, there are more than enough leftovers to share.  Uncle Marty is one happy man having overseen the entire process.  Many times writing a sermon is similar to preparing that special meal.  There is prayer and listening.  Preparation which includes study, researching commentaries, writing and rewriting.

Your sermon must contain something for everyone from those who simply understand “Jesus loves me” to those who are seasoned disciples.  There must be encouragement for the downtrodden, a call to action for those who are looking for purpose and praise from the joy and blessing God has given. Demonstrations and stories, like recipes, help to keep the word fresh and applicable to both the minister and the congregation as they go back into the secular world.  I love the work of writing the Sunday message.

You work on it all week - listening and praying your manuscript through each line and paragraph.  You let your message simmer in your mind and work in your spirit before doing the last rewrite.  Listen to what God is telling you this week through nature, readings, and other believers.  You may find God preaching the message to you.  Once you have God’s blessing (like Uncle Tony in the kitchen), then print the manuscript - yes, all eight pages.  Don’t worry about anything else - it's all in God’s hands. The most important part comes when you stand to the pulpit as God’s spokesperson.

Remember it is God’s word - not yours.  God will empower the spoken word.  God's word will accomplish his will.  Place your manuscript on the pulpit.  Read your scripture, title and maybe your historical information. Then turn the page over and preach from the overflow of what God has taught you this week.

Ready?

Blessings,
Pastor Michaele

Rev. Michaele RJ Wood was born the eldest of four children in Harrisburg PA. Her father was a Marine and Korean Veteran and her mother was a caterer. Michaele says, “Dad maintained order and discipline and mom added the spice.” She attended Catholic school through her junior year before graduating from a public school closer to home. It was during a school assembly about teen suicides that the message “God is love” became real and the Bible became a favorite read.

 

The years following high school were a hodgepodge of military service as an EMT / Practical Nurse and a liaison to the Military Police Units working narcotics, often accompanying them on the execution of search warrants and arrests. She met and married her husband during that tour and one year later put military service behind to be a mom to a new daughter. The following year she gave birth to twins.

In 1990, she was ordained as a minister in Kingdom Fellowship Ministries, a Charismatic fellowship, and assigned to Fountain Gate Ministries, an inner-city Harrisburg Church. There she served for 15 years as an elder, ordained minister associate and part-time instructor in Biblical & Church History for the ETS School of Ministry. She also held the position of Chief Financial Officer for a Harrisburg non-profit organization, while maintaining employment as a medical claims adjuster and raising a family.

The church grew quickly but the authoritarian form of government did not support the growth which led to problems of discipline and doctrine within the fellowship. This led her to a time of discernment. Seeking the help of a more experienced female pastor, who just happened to be Presbyterian, she was introduced to the Book of Order and Reformed Theology. Michaele states, “I had found the missing piece of my faith journey but the church I served was not ready

to change its style of government.”  In 2005, she became a member of Capital Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. She was soon asked to serve on session and was ordained as an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Michaele completed the Dubuque CRE training in January 2006 and was then accepted to Lancaster Theological Seminary receiving her Master of Divinity in 2009.  In 2010, she was ordained by Carlisle Presbytery as  Minister of Word & Sacrament. Subsequently, she was  accepted as a member of the initial class of the “For Such A Time As This Program” leading to her installation as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pontotoc, Mississippi,  where she served until December 2017. 

She now comes to Gainesville as the called pastor of Kanapaha Presbyterian Church and will be installed as the way is made clear.

Pastor Michaele holds an Associate in Human Services from Harrisburg Area Community College; a Bachelor of Christian Ministry from Chesapeake Bible College; a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary; a diploma from the CRE program at Dubuque Seminary, and Certificates of Completion in Spiritual Direction; Clergy Tax Management & Law (Chitwood); and Stewardship (Kirby-Smith).

She is the widowed mother to three adult children, grandmother to (10) ten grandchildren, great-grandmother to two boys, ages 2 years and an infant of 3 months, with another due in October. Saying of her journey thus far, “Life has not always been easy, but then, God didn’t say it would be. God did promise to give us strength to continue the journey even when it seems impossible, even when we are afraid, even when we aren’t sure where God is leading us.  And so, I look forward to our journey together.”

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