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Preaching As Alchemy

2009 March 22
by Mike

“These two experiences remind me not to take myself too seriously. They also make me reluctant to talk about ‘best’ and ‘worst’ sermons. Something happens between the preacher’s lips and the congregation’s ears that is beyond prediction or explanation. The same sermon sounds entirely different at 9:00 and 11:15 A.M. on a Sunday morning. Sermons that make me weep leave my listeners baffled, and sermons that seem cold to me find warm responses. Later in the week, someone quotes part of my sermon back to me, something she has found extremely meaningful — only I never said it.

“There is more going on here than anyone can say. Preaching is finally more than art or science. It is alchemy, in which tin becomes gold and yard rocks become diamonds under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is a process of transformation for both preacher and congregation alike, as the ordinary details of their everyday lives are translated into the extraordinary elements of God’s ongoing creation. When the drum roll begins and the preacher steps into place, we can count on that. Wherever God’s word is, God is — loosening our tongues, tuning our ears, thawing our hearts — making us a people who may speak and hear the Word of Life.”

– Barbara Brown Taylor, Preaching Life

– – – –

Between doubleheader games yesterday — a visit with Van and Tatum, cousins who now live in Coppell.
game1

Driving home after the second game from Weatherford.
game2

8 Responses leave one →
  1. March 22, 2009

    “‘Do you still get nervous?’ a teenager asks me. Is the world still round? But my nervousness has less to do with performance anxiety than it does with standing so close to the truth of who I am before God. The success or failure of any particular sermon seems less important to me than the ongoing process of placing myself in God’s hands.” (BB Taylor)

  2. March 22, 2009

    I love reading Taylor’s books. The only reason I won’t go hear her in Nashville this summer is that I’ll be in Ireland.

  3. March 22, 2009

    Because your preaching isn’t about you but God and his impact and interaction on and in us, probably is one reason you may feel your words on a particular Sunday were cold.Yet they hit me so hard that I could barely breath. I had that experience frequently as I sat in my uncomfortable chair at Highland. I do know it was the Holy Spirit who was at work within me. So even though your venue will be different your words will still be from His Lips to our ears. By the way I cannot believe how much Chris looks like Matt and how much he has grown. Hope the Eagles are doing well in baseball. Miss being there to watch.

  4. Jeff permalink
    March 22, 2009

    As one who has led a bunch of mission trips with teens, I couldn’t agree more with the observations. On a trip to Freeport in the Bahamas, I sat and listened as a teenage boy and girl from our group sat in the home of a local and attempted to “lead him to Christ.” It was quite obviously their first attempt and as they stumbled and mumbled and did their best to tell this poor man about Jesus, I just kept thinking how confused he must be (because they had also managed to confuse me). Unbelievably (to me, not God), at the conclusion of the most uneloquent presenation of the gospel I have ever heard, amazingly, the man said he was ready to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and be immersed into Christ. Truly, the gospel is “the power of GOD unto salvation” and may we never forget it.

  5. annie permalink
    March 22, 2009

    A Texas sunset cannot be beat. Neither can a Mike Cope lesson, or watching one’s son play baseball, & getting to be with sweet family at the game.

  6. March 22, 2009

    Simplicity, perfected:
    ——–
    4 ripe avocados, gently mashed with a fork
    2+ tablespoons minced fresh garlic
    4+ tablespoons minced red onion
    1 tablespoon bacon drippings
    Juice of half a lime
    Salt to taste

    Fold first five ingredients together in a glass bowl; return seeds to bowl, drizzle lime juice over the top, cover, and chill. Serve with extra thin tortilla chips and March Madness.

    Now THAT’S alchemy.

    foodie qb

  7. charlie s. permalink
    March 23, 2009

    Saw those games.
    I have never seen an ending to a game like that play that ended the first game. The second game,… as you said, that is why I prefer football! (he felt better when he was able to point out that Ichiro also went 0-4 last night).
    Saw those kids.
    They are great. You just look at them and can tell they are loved. Enjoyed meeting your brother also.
    Saw that sunset.
    Nothing beats a west texas sunset. Always thought that God made them so pretty in Lubbock as his way of making up for all of the dust. To see a sunset on the Llano Estacado after a windy, dusty day, watching that dying light filtered through the dust is one of the prettiest things going.

  8. March 23, 2009

    You can find Van and Tatum in the excerpt of Pam’s book in Reader’s Digest. There are lots of pictures of them here.

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