aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Talk is cheap, but you can make a living doing it

For curiosity's sake, I decided to go back through all my sermons from the last 42 years, to see what I've preached on. Lectionary preaching for Protestants was just catching on when I was in seminary, and I never caught the bug. I have always undertaken to cover the territory on my own. This requires one to pay close attention, lest one keep to a few well-worn ruts and cheat oneself and one's congregation of the whole sweep of the Bible.

So, not counting funeral sermons and brief Scout chapel messages and whatnot, I went over all the sermons in my records -- all those handwritten notebooks and computer files -- and made a list of all my principal preaching texts. The beaten path was easily seen, though less because of my riding hobby horses than because there are certain major themes and certain Scriptural events to be reviewed every year as we pass through the Christmas and Easter cycles. But my determination to poke into the odd corners was also in evidence; for instance, I have written two different sermons from the 3rd Letter of John, and one of those I know I have re-preached at least once.

I was pleased to see few areas in both Testaments that hadn't been treated at least a time or two. Of the 66 books in our Bible, I have sermons from all but ten of them: Ruth, 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and 2 John. Of these, I am most surprised at never having preached from the book of Ruth; however, I have certainly told the story from the pulpit. I'm sure that I have made reference to Nehemiah's leadership, too -- just not as the principal text of the day.

Of the other books, if you went through and highlighted all the preaching texts, some would be almost completely highlighted. It would be interesting to see what few passages I skipped over in, say, one of the Gospels. Some books, though, I have only a few sermons from; I only have records of three sermons from passages in Judges, for instance -- a book abounding in incident.

Anyway, I am generally pleased with what I find looking back over my entire career. I covered all the expected events and basic doctrines and led my congregations through a lot more of the Bible than they perhaps bargained for.

If I had a way to tot up all the liturgical use I made of the Bible in worship services, the breadth and depth of the presentation of Scripture would be even more dramatic. I had congregations regularly recite the Psalms and many of the Scriptural canticles, and used Scripture in calls to worship and other bits of worship language. One of my peeves is Evangelicals who hype the importance of the Scriptures, but then present a very meager diet of it to their congregations. "Contemporary worship" is particularly bad at this. We blather a lot about the Bible, but a lot of it is the same old, sloganized passages. We don't ask people to use the words of Scripture in their worship language, and thus they remain in ignorance.

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