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Six Observations about Speaking to Pastors Right Before They Preach
Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description With great examples and stories, this book takes you step-by-step through building and delivering great sermons. But I am not preaching.
Preaching is telling folks stuff. I am asking them. This preaching business ought never be about the preacher and what I happen to think; the only point of me standing up here — saying, hollering, asking anything — is what it stirs up, not in me , but in you.
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After he mailed the manuscript to his publisher, Steinbeck checked into the local hospital with depression and exhaustion. Good preaching is strenuous work, and in this new Dark Age, I think there are still some good sermons to be preached, some searing questions to be asked. The shortest, perhaps, was that preached by the Buddha who, wordlessly, held up a lotus flower and with that his hearers were enlightened. Lexington — and I listened to several short sermons by students and offered our critique.
This is illustrated by another preacher I admire named Will Campbell. Brother Will, as he was called, was the model for the Rev. Will B. He was a salty saint of the civil rights movement he was the only white person that Martin Luther King invited to be among the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He generally stayed away from respectable churches and institutions but somehow, in , he was the theologian in residence at the Duke University Chapel. On his last Sunday there, he was supposed to preach but there had been a bad ice storm the night before.
Even still, the chapel was packed in the morning. Campbell was not very well dressed for the occasion — rumpled, no tie, old pants — that was, however, typical — and when the time came for the sermon, he got up and this was his entire sermon:. Had an ice storm last night. Lots of trees are down.
Lots of poor people in this town. Electricity is off, they got no heat. I got my pickup outside, my chain-saw and my wood ax. Larry Bethune. Every Sunday, I wonder what this it is to which I am awake and to which I might call your attention. One other literary reference to preaching is from the novel Gilead , by Marilynne Robinson. The narrator of the novel Gilead is a minister who is somewhat haunted by the sermons he keeps in boxes in his attic, wondering if they mean anything at all. But he also reflects about his father and his grandfather, also ministers, and the conflict between their generations.
Yes, I too have a few boxes of sermons up in this attic, but most of mine are on a hard drive or the cloud, less for my heirs to worry about. That the seraphim never touched a coal to your lips. Are we better served by cerebral ones…or firebrands?
2. Spend a lot of time on a few key words or thoughts
And so in the novel, the conflict between the grandfather and the son centers on an episode when the grandfather returns from a civil war skirmish and climbs into the pulpit of his church wearing his bloody shirt, with a pistol tucked in his belt. Does what we say and do here keep faith with the radicals, the heretics, the martyrs and heroes who bequeathed to us this liberal faith, this faith in humanity, this faith in democracy and the power of human agency to discern meaning in our lives and to create a more loving, just and peaceful world?
But then, as well, I know that my preaching is not always a call to arms. I have sometimes been criticized for being too measured, too cerebral, too hesitant to call us to the barricades. I do hope I will be willing to step into this pulpit, when need be, with my chainsaw or ax or bloody shirt. I also know that some of you have come into this place to get out of the storm. Your shirt may already be bloodied; your soul tired; you came in search not of war but of peace, you hoped to hear not a call to arms but a word of healing. Love is the spirit of this church.
Say it with me: Love is the spirit of this church and service is its law. This is our great covenant, to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another. You are, I assure you, so good! So what? Now what? And, yes, afire with old certainties, sometime, I hope I will step into this pulpit wearing a bloody shirt.
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