Name That Sermon!
Still another preacher told of a time when, as a five-year-old child having supper at Burger King with her family, her mom, to make her feel important, sent her to the counter just a few feet from their table to get some ketchup. She stood at the counter, and said, "Excuse me." They completely ignored her. She tried again. And finally again, but no response. She likened the frustrating experience to Bartimaeus' experience of being ignored and discounted, not heard, contrasting his refusal to be quiet with her own five-year-old timidity. I would call her sermon "The Child at the Counter."
Still another preacher spoke of Linus from the Charlie Brown cartoon series, who famously said, "Happiness is a warm blanket." She pointed out that, for first-century beggars, the blanket was their umbrella, their tent, their shelter, their money collector, and their bank. She challenged us to get rid of our blankets and move toward Jesus unencumbered. A good title for her sermon might be "Bye-Bye Blankie."
A final student asked us if we knew what it was like to sit on the sidelines, being told by others what we could and could not do. She demanded to know what it would take for us to allow the still small voice of God's call on our lives to drown out the loud voices of those who seek to discourage us. I'd call her sermon "What's It Gonna Take?"
Each of the sermons had a clear focus and a pretty sharp hook.
Morphed in a Moment!
Good but Not Safe
Too Scared to Shout
The Child at the Counter
What's It Gonna Take?
Which sermon would you preach? Probably none of the above. Better to own up to your unique voice and message, the application of God's words to Solomon to yourself: "No one like you has ever been before and no one like you will ever be again."
Better to make the passage your own as God through Jesus Christ has made you God's own.
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.