Baking Up The Sermons

My cousin and me recently made a visit to Costco.

We were casually going through the aisles until we hit the pastry section.

Immediately, we were mesmerized by the smell of fresh baked goods.

We were kids in a candy store, wanting to take everything home.

We settled on a mixed batch of cookies consisting of chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and oatmeal raisins.



After putting the batch into our cart, my cousin made the following the comment:

“Its so difficult to find the motivation to bake cookies, when it’s so easily accessible through Costco.”

I wasn’t sure where she was coming from, so I asked her to elaborate.

“Well for me it’s so much trouble to go buy the materials, prepare it, and then wait for it to be ready”.

“Sometimes I go through all that trouble and my batch isn’t even good as the ones at Costco.”



My cousin had a point.

Why go through all that trouble, when you don’t have to right?

Most of the people that I know, don’t have enough time to do all the things they want to do.

Why waste time when you already don’t have enough time?

Life is about prioritizing what’s important and sometimes baking doesn’t always make it to the top of the list.



The only reasons I can think of, in which a person actually prefers baking cookies over buying them is:

1. Their batch is superior in taste and quality compared to the bought ones.

2. Their batch is considerable cheaper when you factor in time and materials invested.

3. They aren’t in it for superior quality or saving money, but rather they just enjoy the process of baking.

Intrinsically, you have to derive some type of benefit or else why would you choose the harder route?



This weekend I talked briefly with a friend I haven’t seen for a very long time.

She told me she recently transitioned from finance to going to school at Le Cordon Bleu.

I never asked her why she wanted to be a pastry chef, but I can see the above reasons applying to her.

Reason #1 applies to her because you got to have self-confidence in your creations and believe that they are of the highest quality.

Reason #3 applies to her because it’s impossible to make a career out of baking if you can’t enjoy yourself in the kitchen.



People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you go to the church anymore?”

I never really knew the real answer, so I made something up:

“The Catholic Church has too many rules and regulations.”

“I don’t get anything from going to mass anymore.”

“I look around at all the people in church who pretend to be holy and I lose faith.”



In the end, all those answers were insufficient because I felt like taking them back the moment I said them.

The truth is, the Catholic Church is good.

I do get something from going to mass.

Others only affect my faith, because I let them.

But still, I haven’t found a reason for my lack of motivation to attend weekly mass.



That is until now.

I stopped going to church because I wanted more than what was being offered to me at church.

For me, the most important of part of mass is the sermon.

It’s the one part that personally bridges my life to the life of Jesus Christ and all that happened before and after his life.

Everything else is simply ritual repetition with small deviations depending on where we are at in the Catholic liturgical year.



For close to 30 years of my religious life, I was like my cousin who finds it easier to buy cookies then to make them.

She goes to Costco, she finds her cookies, she eats it, and moves on with her life.

I go to Church, I get my sermon, I think about it, and then I move on with my life.

Every Sunday for 30 years, I have gone through this same routine.

I realized this same routine was cutting it for me anymore.



I took myself out of the church, because I realized that I depended on the church so much I felt like I was spiritually complacent.

I grew spiritually complacent because I knew that my Pastor will feed my soul every Sunday.

I was so busy with everything else in life that I didn’t even try to make more time for my soul than the bare minimum.

The bare minimum for any practicing Catholic is a 1 hour devotion to God every Sunday.

Because the church only required 1 hour of my life, that’s all I gave to God.



But removing myself from church didn’t exactly help me spiritually.

What has helped me spiritually after leaving the church, is learning how to bake just like my friend.

Instead of going to costco and buying cookies, she “bakes up” her own batch of cookies.

For me, instead of going to church and receiving the sermon, I “bake up” my own sermons.

I found the process of “baking up” my own sermons more rewarding than just receiving the sermon at church.



When a pastor “bakes up” a sermon, he sits down and reads the bible.

He asks himself, “How can I make this bible passage relevant to my audience?”

He does research and tries to come up with some stories, jokes, and props to engage the audience.

He brainstorms, makes multiple drafts, and might ask others to critique his work.

When he believes it is good enough, he delivers it on Sunday.



I go through a similar process and once I’m done, I usually put my findings in a blog.

In fact, all my personal sermons that I have ever “baked up” go directly into this blog.

I do this not because of reason #1 (I believe my sermons are way better than the pastor.)

Nor do I believe that I fit under scenario #2 (I probably invest way more time than a pastor does. He’s definitely more efficient than me.)

I do this because of reason #3 (I simply enjoy the process of “baking up” my own sermons every week.)



For me the “baking-up” a sermon process is a spiritual process.

It encourages me to be proactive in my spirituality instead of waiting to be “fed” by the pastor every Sunday.

True, I may spend way more time coming up with these sermons when compared to the pastor’s preparation time.

But my priority is spirituality, so the fact that I spend so much time preparing, is actually a benefit not a drawback.

I’m not wasting time, I’m actually investing it.



Before, I might’ve told myself to just get the hour of mass over so I can do what I really want to do.

Now, I might spend 1, 3, or 5 hours on my own sermon until I’m satisfied with the result.

This may only apply to me, but I definitely enjoy the process of “baking-up” my own sermons because I am more involved.

I could always revert back to going to church and receive the pastor’s sermon weekly, that would be so easy.

The only reason why I persist down the hard road is because I just find it way more rewarding when I’m the one baking up the sermons.

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