A recent sampling of my weekend emails revealed the following offers:
- Sermon for tomorrow—immediate access!
- Sermon for this Sunday. Reliable. Professional. Easy.
- Sermons freshly written for the Easter season.
- Sermons professionally written for every Sunday.
Based on the subject lines, a thriving red-letter market exists for preachers interested in purchasing Saturday Night Special sermons.
In full disclosure, I certainly borrow from others in sermon preparation. After 2,000 years of Christendom, no one achieves originality. Dr. Fred Craddock, who taught homiletics at Candler School of Theology, warned: “He who steals from me steals twice.” And Fred probably got that statement from someone else!
However, preaching store bought sermons as homemade homilies smacks of intellectual dishonesty and spiritual slothfulness. Like Esau, clergy that settle for “reliable, professional, and easy” store bought sermons have traded their birthright for porridge.
Preachers worth their salt labor over proclaiming the Gospel in a unique time and place to a particular people and parish. The integration of Word and World requires a pastor to stand with one foot in the sanctuary and another in the street.
Like Jacob at the Jabbok, faithful ministers wrestle with the Lord and struggle with the text. We limp away from the encounter to share with others our hard won experience.
A homemade homily prepared with love and preached with faithfulness may not be “professionally written,” but it inspires the hearts, minds, and souls of God’s saints.