Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Memo to the preacher: Tell me the stories of Jesus

As a rule I don't use goofy sermon illustrations. I think most of them are stupid, actually. They get me rather steamed.

I mean, why should we get all dressed up for church, get our families there on time, teach them to sit still, make sure everyone has gone potty, etc. before church, train them to sit still for an hour or so, and generally teach them carefully over the years how to behave themselves in church, when all we hear are goofy little made-up stories to us the preacher found in a book of illustrations? You think we like hearing those anecdotes? Well, ok maybe some are shallow enough to like them, but what we'd really rather hear is the word of God. Remember that explanation of the Third Commandment?: " . . . not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it." Well, how can we, if instead of preaching it all the pastor does is string banal little stories together and try to weave out of them some moral?

I'm not against stories, mind you; it's just that the Bible is so full of stories that we don't need any of yours. So go ahead, preacher, tell stories! You want stories to illustrate Jesus' victory over sin, death, and hell? How about David and Goliath? Or Elijah and the widow? Or Daniel in the lions' den? Why, they are so appropriate, you might think they were meant to serve as illustrations of Christ! Oh wait, they were . . .

If you really want to preach Christ, then just do it! Listen, you have to explain what the Gospel pericope is talking about, then point out what it says about Christ, and then find examples of sin or faith, and if you still have time, throw in some nice illustrations from the Bible where there are plenty. And your sermon really shouldn't drone on too long, either, as much as you like to hear yourself talk. Now really, how in the world do you have any time left over for those silly little make-believe vignettes? Really, just stop with them, ok?

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