From Rev. Eric…

June 12, 2024

In his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, the leadership expert John C. Maxwell shares a story about President Abraham Lincoln listening to sermons. The story is as follows:

President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd. One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”
“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”
“So, it was a great sermon?”
“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.”

In a metaphorical sense, preachers craft sermons – or preachers preach – to point to the in-breaking of the realm of God in the present moment and to encourage their listeners to work for bringing more of the kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Sometimes, the point of my Sunday sermon is more obvious than others. Sometimes, I am more subtle. As I reflect on Lincoln’s words and my own, I am also mindful of the sage advice I read long ago that says, “When speaking (or preaching) we are giving people food. We do not need to chew it for them as well.”

Rev. Eric