I asked my wife Sunday afternoon if she felt that I had ‘yelled’ too much in Sunday’s sermon. I don’t yell, exactly. But I can allow a strained elevation of my voice to be sustained for a significant period of time that can seem, to me, like yelling.
I felt I had done that Sunday. She told me that I had not yelled and that, in fact, I came across as more reserved than the previous Sunday. So, I concluded, as I do with such information (I’m an Olympic caliber conclusion-jumper) that I had yelled THAT week.
Perhaps I did, perhaps I did not. But I did come perilously close to scolding. Much of those sermons was spent challenging the congregation, and myself, to examine some elements of our discipleship and to call us to a purer devotion to Jesus. That is necessary and it is good. But alone, it is empty and vain.
As a reminder of that, these words from a former professor of preaching which I read this morning, ring so very true.
I know I need to be scolded. I need to be corrected. I need to be instructed and exhorted. I need to be called to repentance. But I also need for you the preacher to take me by the hand and let me walk off the size of my inheritance as a child of God. I need every now and then to run my fingers through the unsearchable riches of the treasure of God’s grace, to sing the doxology, and go home.
If preachers could do that better, I’m convinced we would need to do far less scolding.
[from Fred B. Craddock, Craddock on the Craft of Preaching, page 115]