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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Minister’s New Sermon (a parable of sorts)

Once, not so long ago, there was a Minister who was exceedingly proud of his theological profundity, despite the fact that he seemed to care nothing for study of the scriptures. He had a comment, or a thought, or a brief word to share (that was never so brief) on any topic of Christian devotion. He would speak at length whenever given the opportunity. He needed no time to prepare, in fact he preferred to speak extemporaneously. Taking time to exegete a text seemed wasteful to him, something for the ivory towered intellectuals; he was, he said, gifted by God to speak as he did without preparation.

It also his practice to conclude his speeches, and sermons, and devotional discourses by addressing his audience (whether it was a large crowd or a single individual) and pressing them for comment. “Now tell me, what you think of this,” he would command them. And because he was a Minister of some import and influence with the leaders and prefects of the community, his audiences (whether crowds or individuals) felt compelled to praise his words and compliment his insight.

“Truly, a wise word, sir,” they said, or “I fully agree with everything you have said.”

One Sunday morning he stood at the pulpit in his chapel and delivered a sermon of such eloquence, such soaring expressiveness (he thought, even as he was speaking) that surely the congregation would be lifted to new heights of devotion, that their hearts would burn within them. He lifted metaphors from the text and mixed them with his own spontaneously conceived metaphors. He used catchphrases and buzz words that were current only a decade or so ago. He drifted from one new thought to another new thought in a stream of ever flowing (if somewhat disconnected) ideas until he reached, at long last, his conclusion, and then spoke a bit more before sharing a final two points.

After the prayer and the benediction were spoken, the Minister stood at the door of the sanctuary so that he could greet the members of the congregation as they left. He shook each of their hands and asked, “What did you think of what I said? Deep, right?”

And no one contradicted him.

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Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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