Posted tagged ‘Lamentations’

Sermon Sorting

September 7, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   September 7, 2016


I’m in the midst of chaos in my home study. As my mom used to say, “It looks like a tornado went through your room!” She often exaggerated when it suited the point she was making! If, however, she saw my study she would run for shelter.

The reason for the chaos is that I’m going through all my old sermons…all thirty-six and a half years of them! I’m sorting them according to the main scripture text in various piles that cover the floor. I’ve been going about it a few minutes at a time, because my knees can’t take that much floor time! Old knees kneeling over old sermons…quite a combination!

As I’ve gone about the sorting process I’ve started to discover certain things. Although I’m not done yet, Matthew seems to have been my favorite book of the Bible to preach from. Mark is not far behind! In fact, the gospels are getting a majority of the manuscripts. If it was my fantasy football league draft they would be my first four picks in building a solid point-producing line-up.

There are certain books that are missing in my sermons. Song of Solomon and Lamentations did not make the sermon cut. I was always a bit shy about preaching about gazelles and pomegranates in THAT kind of way. And although it is the Word of God, Lamentations didn’t really inspire much hope for me. It was understandably hard to “get up” for preaching doom-and-gloom!

I’m already seeing certain themes appear. In my earlier years of ministry my sermons tended to dish out the guilt more. My task seemed to be to make people realize how screwed up they were. In my later years of ministry the theme of grace filters through my messages more and more. I can’t analyze that too much yet. It could be that I was seeing how ridicule and accusation were becoming more dominant in our culture, or it could be that I was sensing more sorrow in people’s lives because of who they had become. It is always easier to condemn rather than help people reconcile. Whatever winds blew me in that direction, grace has been a guiding theme for me the last few years.

I was never really into “end times prophecy”. There’s a void in my preaching in regards to that. I was much more into present-day living and life application. My emphasis was not on what’s going to happen in the future, but rather what does this means for us now?

When I breathe my last breath I’m not sure whether my bulk of messages will survive “the clean-out.” They may end up in some dumpster, along with my old underwear and twenty year old bottles of cologne. Perhaps one of my kids will feel some kind of “dad obligation” and keep them in a few boxes in their basement…maybe!

They are what they are, simply written two thousand word manuscripts from a time gone by. The bigger question will be what sermons will my life have communicated that will stay with people. The most important sermons are not those written on typing paper. The most important messages are those that a person’s life writes with the kind of ink that never fades away.

Going back to Lamentations, I realize that all those three page sermon manuscripts I have are as nothing. They represent thousands of hours of preparation, revision, and pondering and yet they will one day be gone.

But what my life preaches will be remembered! It’s a humbling thought for a preacher, and yet it is one that keeps things in perspective for me. When it comes to a Sunday morning message I’ve assisted a multitude of people in getting a few moments of slumber, but when it comes to what my life preaches there is always an attentive audience.

My life will preach a sermon today. What will be the dominant theme that comes from it?

A Summer to Forget…or Remember

July 25, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  July 25, 2012


“The Summer of 12”! The usual squeals of kids splashing in pools, vacationing families touring the sites, and trips to the ice cream shop have been replaced this summer with drought conditions, out-of-control fires, and mass murder.

About six weeks ago we shook our heads in sympathy for the people of Fort Collins as their area dealt with the fires, only to have the nation with their eyes on Colorado Springs a couple of weeks later. Just as we grieved the Waldo Canyon fire the shootings in Aurora took us into another period of gasping and wondering.

Many would say that it is a summer to forget, but perhaps it is more a summer to remember. In Colorado Springs there has been a coming together in many ways of the community. Tomorrow I’ll go to the weekly meeting of the Waldo Canyon Long Term Recovery Team. About 75 people from various churches, organizations, and agencies have been meeting weekly for the past month talking through the recovery process. I’m in one of the sub-groups that is dealing with clean-up. There is a linking of hands and efforts to bring healing to a city. The harsh reality is that it sometimes takes a catastrophe to get people to work together. Such is the case with The Springs.

As we look back at it then, this summer may be one that will remembered for something of God rising our of the ashes, and something good coming out of the bad in Aurora.

Joseph saw God’s hand in the midst of his brother’s treachery and hatred. He saw that the long range plan of God included his trip to a pit and a place that would have been described as being “the pits.” He saw that what his brothers meant for bad, God meant for good.

That’s a hard thing to say in our culture where we often are bitter is everything isn’t completely peachy-keen! Our love and devotion to God is mostly tied to how much he’s blessing us!

But the Bible has a few of those other books in it…like Lamentations. When was the last time you heard a verse from Lamentations read as a part of praise worship?

Or Ecclesiastes…unless it was as a a part of a funeral (“There is a time and a season for everything…”)?

The trials and tragedies of “12” have the potential to draw us close to the one who stays with us through the tears and the laughter.

Let’s pray that’s the direction we head into.