Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dr. Smith I Need a New Preaching Class (and a computer that prints on more than 1/4 of the page)

I preached today in Elba, Alabama . . . "I remember you." It was great to be back with my church family. Oh Elba, how I have loved thee.

After the service, I went to lunch with a few church members. I asked them what they thought my "take home message" was. They remembered that I preached on Samuel. They remembered a few of my illustrations . .. but no one could name a, "so what". Oh no. Maybe I should end every sermon with a recap of at least one main point. Seriously, would that be helpful? If congregants walk away knowing they enjoyed the sermon, but having no idea what I said, is that good enough? I can't imagine that it is.

Here is an excerpt from today's sermon on 1 Samuel 3:

"I’ve read this passage of scripture dozens of times. Samuel’s encounter with God is a famous conversation. In all the times of reading I’ve never focused on the in between moments when Samuel goes back to sleep and Eli is clueless. I’ve always focused on Samuel’s eventual response to God – when he realized that God was talking to him and he answered with those famous words, “Here I am.” I’ve never thought about the process it took for Samuel to get to his response. There was Hannah and her inconsolable tears, a miraculous birth, a move to the temple. There were many nights when God said nothing as Samuel slept by the Ark making sure the lamps were burning . . . God is still speaking and is just as likely to be found in the commonplace talking to the apprentice and not the know it all. In this season of ordinary time, we are all on the edge of creation. Lent will be here soon enough. The Easter banner will be hung . . . "

My personal "so what" was the realization that there were many nights Samuel didn't hear a word from God. There were many nights he slept alone in the temple "keeping watch" over the lanterns and . . . God . . . said . . . nothing. Ordinary time.

Insert peaceful exhale here.


OpenID leanngjohns said...

I know what you mean... we should have a preaching practicum... we've talked about it before. I feel much of the same way. However, I remember that it's also pretty cool to see what the Spirit's involvement in it too. I know there are things that I want them to remember but that may not be their "take home".

11:36 AM  
Blogger circle said...

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11:45 AM  
Blogger Burgess Family Updates said...

I totally agree . . . the problem is, they couldn't even tell me what the Spirit told them. :(

11:46 AM  

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