I am currently reading, The Sermon Maker by Calvin Miller. It pairs well with O Shepherd Where Art Thou? also by Calvin Miller which I recently read. The Sermon Maker is a book on preaching. It follows the story of a preacher named Sam who is struggling to be free and rid of boring, ineffectual preaching. It has been an inspiring help.
Preaching continues to be my love affair of the past 8 months. I love it, I hate it, I fear it, I can’t wait for it; I am in a torrid love affair with preaching. It may be a gift of mine, it may also be a horrible weakness. Such is the nature of this love affair. Such is the nature of preaching, I think.
Such high hopes rest in those 25 minutes each week. So much prayer, preparation, thought, and work go into each of those words that are spoken.
Some sermons inexplicably connect with the people of God. Some sermons sail right over the heads of the people. Some sermons crash as soon as they take off and seem to never even reach the ears of the people. I am overconfident in some sermons and I am horribly fearful to deliver most.
In one footnote, Miller articulates well my hopes for the people of God and the sermon spoken each week.
“Preaching done well lures those weary with a meaningless vocation to wish they migh tactually be what they behold. The children who are moved by Sam’s sermon see in the words the answer to the greatest question the sermon can answer: Is God among us or not? William Willimon says,
‘Whenever we gather on Sunday, that is still our question. IS the Lord among us or not (Ex 17:7)? We thought that our problem was our need for freedom, for liberation. No. Out problem is thirst. Our controversy is over appropriate ways to quench thirst. And every Sunday the preacher strikes the rock and there is water, things are brought to speech, and silence is broken. The Lord is with us.’
It is a most attractive calling, when the keepers of the water tell a thirsty world where to get a drink. No wonder preaching well done is God’s recruiting office.”
My task in preparing for Sunday morning is to figure out how each text I preach from brings living water to quench the thirst of all of us. My task is to answer uniquely each week the question, “Is God among us?”
Your task in preparing for the preaching event of Sunday morning is to come with an expectancy of having your thirst quenched. For God is pouring out His spirit on us regardless of the quality of the preacher (Praise be to God!).
For the other 167 1/2 hours in the week, the task of all of us is to approach our lives as a sermon. We live as if our every moment of being is preaching a sermon. For we as Followers of Christ are having poured out through us this living water and we as Followers of Christ are answering the quesiton for others, “Is God available to us?”