Saturday, April 09, 2005

Preaching's value

The following is an old, old story. According to some versions of it that have floated around through the years, it all began with a letter to the editor of a British newspaper. Whether true or apocryphal, though, it's point is well made.
"Dear Sir: I notice that ministers seem to set a great deal of importance on their sermons and spend a great deal of time in preparing them. I have been attending services quite regularly for the past thirty years and during that time, if I estimate correctly, I have listened to no less than 3,000 sermons, but, to my consternation, I discover I cannot remember a single one of them. I wonder if a minister's time might be more profitably spent on something else? Sincerely . . ."
That letter triggered an avalanche of angry responses for weeks. Sermons were castigated and defended, but eventually a single letter closed the debate:
"Dear Sir: I have been married for 30 years, during that time I have eaten 32,580 meals -- mostly of my wife's cooking. Suddenly, I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I have received nourishment from every single one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death long ago. Sincerely . . ."
"We always thank God that you believe the message we preached. . . . You accepted it as God's message and it is that word that is working in you now."
(1 Thes.2:13)