Sunday, September 07, 2008

Preaching

Frederick Buechner has been one of my favorite writers since my seminary days when I discovered him. Yesterday I ran across this gem from his book Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale on Jim Martin's blog. Great stuff for me to be reminded of. This isn't exactly how things work at my church, but still, sometimes we tend to forget things like this. I think I should get this book.

…Fresh from breakfast with his wife and children and a quick run through of the Sunday papers, the preacher climbs the steps to the pulpit with his sermon in his hand. He hikes his black robe up at the knee so that he will not trip over it on the way up. His mouth is a little dry. He has cut himself shaving. He feels as if he has swallowed an anchor. If it weren’t for he honor of the thing, he would just as soon be somewhere else.

In the front pews the old ladies turn up their hearing aids, and a young lady slips her six-year old a Lifesaver and a Magic Marker. A college sophomore home for vacation, who is there because he was dragged there, slumps forward with his chin in his hand. The vice-president of a bank who twice that week has seriously contemplated suicide places his hymnal in the rack. A pregnant girl feels the life stir inside her. A high-school math teacher, who for twenty years has managed to keep his homosexuality a secret for the most part even from himself, creases his order of service down the center with his thumbnail and tucks it under his knee…

…The preacher pulls the little cord that turns on the lectern light and deals out his note cards like a riverboat gambler. The stakes have never been higher. Two minutes from now he may have lost his listeners completely to their own thoughts, but at this minute he has them in the palm of his hand. The silence in the shabby church is deafening because everybody is listening even himself. Everybody knows the kind of things he has told them before and not told them, but who knows what this time, out of the silence, he will tell them? (Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale, pp. 22-23)