CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
There is an old saying: If you have three frogs to swallow, swallow the biggest one first.
When I was an every-Sunday preacher, and was faced each week with four scriptures—one “lesson” each from Old Testament, Psalms, Gospels, and New Testament] to use as a sermon springboard, I had two principles by which I chose: 1] Preach the Gospel. We are Christ-ians. Preach from the story about or from Jesus, the Christ, the Word of God. 2] Preach from the one that is hardest, most difficult to understand, the one from which I wanted least to preach.
When you have a choice, do the hardest thing. It’s not just the most character-building, it’s the most useful.
My friend, Phyllis Graham Parr, did a PhD in math, because, she said, “At the end of my bachelor’s degree, I felt I understood humanities and arts and sciences pretty well, but I did not really know math. It was hardest. I needed more work in it.”
Each Lent at our church, retired engineer Charlie Matson sets up Tuesday night Bible studies. We have a lot of retired preachers in our congregation, so, in addition to our “active” pastoral staff, he calls on those timorous theologians to lead. For the two years I have been going to these, he has asked those hoary homileticians to reflect on their favorite Bible passages.
I have suggested to him that next year we should ask them to work with us on the one that is most difficult for them. It’s partly because I have a particular one in mind. Mostly, though, it’s just because I want to see them squirm.