Fed up with sermons

shocked
Photo by permission from http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bigevil600

Yes, really.

I am fed up with sermons.

That’s probably not what a Regional Minister ought to have as the title for one of his bloggages. But I am honestly fed up with sermons.

Not, I hasten to add, in the usual sense of that phrase! (Put the stones down…)

I am fed up with sermons because when I sit and listen to a sermon I get fed. Unbelievably that even happens when I am preaching a sermon myself. God’s Spirit takes the human being who is stood at the front and uses them to nourish those who are listening. (I recognise that not everybody who is sat in the congregation is actually paying attention – and nowadays you don’t even have to be present as lots of sermons are recorded and put on church websites). Somehow a miracle happens when God’s Spirit takes words that are spoken by one person and applies and interprets them into the lives of those who are listening in different ways. The same words can have a different impact. Indeed sometimes when I have been preaching he has somehow fed someone with words and meaning that I didn’t use! I believe that’s a miracle.

But I am not just fed by sermons, I am fed up. Any sermon in church that points me towards God has, in my view, achieved its purpose. It should make us look upwards. I was reminded of that on Sunday when I was speaking from John 21 and pointed out that while the message I was giving was about fresh starts, the subject of the passage is Jesus Christ – risen, meeting with his friends, renovating Peter and offering the same fresh beginnings to all who seek them. If when I preach one of my sermons it fails to make people look up (metaphorically and spiritually) then I have failed the main objective.

A long time ago there was some correspondence in The Times about the value of sermons. Someone had written a letter to ask about the point of sermons as he had been going to church for over 30 years and could not remember one of them. The correspondence went back and forth on this subject for a while with people defending or attacking sermons. The correspondence was ended when someone wrote that they had been eating Sunday lunches for the past 30 years and while they couldn’t remember any of them they were pretty sure that they had done them some good.

I like that.

It makes me smile.

It’s a gentle but wise answer, seasoned with a touch of levity.

But…

(didn’t you know there would be a ‘but’?)

How many of you eat Sunday lunch and then don’t eat anything for the rest of the week? Could you survive like that?

So why do so many Christians think they can do that spiritually?

How are you nourished daily?

There are many online resources nowadays: you can get emails daily to your email inbox from organisations like Scripture Union’s WordLive, Bible apps on your phone  or tablet like YouVersion and there are Bible websites like Bible Gateway. There’s no reason why we can’t be fed daily. Is there?

Be blessed, be a blessing

The last leg

On Wednesday we have the final session at our church of ‘Expedition Through the Bible’. We  are on the last leg, having looked at:

The Big Picture – the grand narrative of the Bible

What are we reading – understanding the different types of literature in the Bible

Interpreting what we read – tools for helping us to interpret the Bible and apply it today

How did we get the Bible? – looking at how the manuscripts were written and collated

Can we trust the Bible? – what are infallibility and inerrancy and what do we do when there are differences between manuscripts?

Open Bibles are generally easier to read than closed ones.
Open Bibles are generally easier to read than closed ones.

And on Wednesday we will be looking at what will help us when we read the Bible. I am hoping to share a number of different resources, ideas, ways of reading and so on that will help people to read the Bible – whether they are new to it or have been reading it for 50+ years. So, if you have anything that really helps you, please feel free to share it either by replying directly to this bloggage or via some of the social media through which it is circulated. It would be brilliant to hear what you find helpful.

To get you started, let me offer you one idea:

Find your Bible, pick it up.

Find somewhere to sit.

Sit down.

Open your Bible.

Start reading*.

Sorry to have been a bit facetious, but I know from my own experience of following Jesus that sometimes reading the Bible gets squeezed out a bit by busyness and business. There are times when I need just to stop, give God the time, and sit down with an open Bible and an open attitude. Reading in that way gives him the time and space to communicate with me through the words of this amazing book – inspired by him when it was written, inspiring to us when we read it (because the One who inspired it to be written is with us when we read it).

*If you are not sure where to start reading I would advise you start with a gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Read them as an entire book, ignoring the chapter and verse divisions and also ignoring those pesky headings that have been inserted (and which are not in the original manuscripts). Reading them in one go will change your perspective on Jesus.

That’s a money-back guarantee**.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

**The amount of money returned under the money-back guarantee scheme is limited to the amount it cost me to write this bloggage.