… or thereabouts

Maybe that number is in my head because I was watching the ‘one hundred and one dalmatians’ on the television the other day. Those gangly puppies with their trail of mess and their inclination to run off in several directions at once might just have reminded me of a sermon or three!

As a preacher I can look back on one hundred or so sermons preached this year and feel all kinds of things about them. There are some I might wish to change, some I would like to edit from the past, and others that I would gladly preach again tomorrow.

Thankfully the ‘entail’ of each sermon is in God’s hands, and not mine. My duty is to prepare with all diligence and preach with all humility – but what happens thereafter is God’s department.

Just recently I was asked to write a letter to preachers of the future, and I reproduce it here as my greetings for 2010.


Dear Future Preacher
Since you are a merchant of truth, my best advice to you is to be true in all that you do.
Be true to the Word of God.  It is your friend, your source, your companion and your master. Do not stand behind it, neglecting your duty as its interpreter. Do not stand in front of it so that it is obscured from view. Stand beside it and point out its beauty, intricacy and depth to all who will hear.
Be true to the people of God.  Understand them, accept them, tolerate them and love them.  You must interpret then at least as much as you do the scripture – and it will be a harder job, for they are ever changing! Unless you seek with all your heart to understand them, you will be unable to build a bridge from scripture into their lives which will bear the weight of eternal truth.
Be true to the Spirit of God. Allow him to ruffle you, to inflate your tired soul or deflate your puffy ego. Listen to him in the quietness of the study and heed him in the pulpit too. His way, even when unpredictable, will always be best.
Be true to yourself. God chose you to be a preacher, not some better or more glamorous version of yourself. All the dents and bashes and quirks you have picked up along the way are precious, like the patina on a piece of beautiful old furniture – they add to your value as a preacher.
Preaching is a high privilege and a noble calling. Treat it with respect and you will have a ringside seat at the weekly theatre of miracles where God turns rocks into diamonds and introduces forever into today.