Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Cards are sweet, but
SAY, “I love you!”
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Cards are sweet, but
SAY, “I love you!”
The Pew Research Center recently published an exhaustive review of 49,719 online sermons. The study found the median length of a homily was 37 minutes; however, the time varied based on tradition. Mainline Protestant sermons averaged 25 minutes while evangelical Protestants lasted 39 minutes. Historically black Protestant churches topped the list at 54 minutes.
Based on the results, I am a below average preacher!
My sermons typically last 18 to 22 minutes. However, some congregants have assured me that they SEEM to last much longer. That’s a compliment, right?
Seminary professors and clergy mentors attempted to teach me the art of proclaiming the gospel. However, my father gave me the best advice of all. He looked me solemnly in the eye and said, “Remember, son, the mind can absorb only what the bottom can endure!”
Wise words from a wise man.
I take solace in the fact that many of Jesus’ recorded parables and sermons were quite short. With the exception of “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Sermon on the Plain,” the Lord delivered most of his messages with an economy of words.
Based on Jesus’ example, I am content to be a below average preacher.
Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.
And when our days here are accomplished,
enable us to die as those who go forth to live,
so that living or dying, our life may be in you,
and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us
from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Services of Death and Resurrection in The United Methodist Book of Worship)
Albert Einstein taught the world that time is relative. You don’t have to comprehend the math to appreciate the concept. Time flies when you’re having fun, and the seconds creep when you’re having dental work!
I’ve seen the same theorem at work in church life.
In his book, All In, Mark Batterson wrote, “We all want to spend eternity with God. We just don’t want to spend time with God.”
Time is relative.
Eternity is not.
Sue Allen, Director of Women’s Ministries at Northside Church, recently published a devotional that I’m sharing with permission.
The omnipresent God whose name is not distant but nearer to us than we can imagine. God is not alien to the circumstances of our lives but comes to us in them. It is relatively
easy to meet God in moments of joy or bliss. In these situations, we correctly count ourselves blessed.
The challenge is to believe that God is also true — and to know God’s presence — in the midst of doubt, depression, anxiety, conflict or failure. But the God who is Immanuel is equally in those moments we would never choose as in those we would always gladly choose.
Richard Rohr reminds us that “we cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What is absent is our awareness” (David Benner’s The Gift of Being Yourself, 41).
Immanuel. What a beautiful name. God with us.
On January 1, many of us made New Year’s resolutions. During the holidays, we overindulged in too much of too much. The birth of a New Year inspired plans of diet, exercise, and thriftiness.
Resolutions born at midnight on December 31st, however, seldom survive the first weeks of January. Habit is a hard master to overthrow. By mid-month, the new and improved model greatly resembles the old and not so improved model!
We can scoff at the idea of spontaneous resolutions leading to lasting change. However, we serve a God of fresh starts and second chances. Today can be different from yesterday; and tomorrow can be different from today.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul declares: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Our “re-creation” in Christ is both event and process as we grow into the image of our Savior.
Jesus began his ministry preaching the message, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe in the gospel.” The time has come for repentance rather than resolutions. This year can be new in more than name alone!
Each year I share my one attempt at poetry entitled “The Day after Christmas.” It reminds us that Christmas is not only a day or a season but also a lifestyle. May we celebrate the good news of Christ coming into the world year-round.
‘Twas the day after Christmas and all were asleep
The twenty-fifth had left them all tired and beat.
The stockings were slung carelessly on the floor
Stripped of their contents and of interest no more.
The children were exhausted, collapsed in their beds,
With visions of sleeping-in fixed in their heads.
And mama in her flannel and me with my mate,
Were in hopes that we too might get to sleep late.
When out in the front there arose such a racket
I sprang from my bed like a frightened jackrabbit.
I stubbed my big toe on the way to the door,
And set off the alarm system on the first floor.
The early sun’s light shone bright on the toys
Left in the front yard yesterday by my boys.
Then I saw a car splashing right through the muck,
A red, white and blue delivery truck.
My head was aching and my stomach felt ill,
As the postman delivered a hand full of bills!
The charges were listed in dollars and cents,
Payment would empty the United States’ mints.
Now, Visa! Now, Penney’s! Now, Macy’s and Rich’s!
On, Walmart! On, K-Mart! On Abercrombie and Fitch’s!
November and December we had a great ball,
Come January, we owe something to all.
I made my way through a maze of presents piled high,
Looked again at the bills and gave a great sigh.
Turkey bones roosted on the dining room table,
Yesterday we ate all we were able.
I tried to turn on the new espresso maker,
Complete with a digital, alarm clock waker.
My family stumbled slowly down the stairs
As cordial as a den of hibernating bears.
I bent down to pet our faithful dog, Carl,
But he snapped at my fingers and let out a snarl.
My wife dressed quite quickly and shouted to all,
“I’m going bargain hunting all day at the mall!”
The children slammed the door behind them as well,
Going to friends’ homes for Christmas show and tell.
And I collapsed in my brand new easy chair,
To see how my favorite football teams would fare.
I held a glass of Alka-Seltzer firmly in my fist
Regretting last night’s snack I should have missed.
During halftime I arose from the recliner,
My team was ahead and the world seemed much finer.
Wading through the wrapping paper piled knee high
Something on the mantle piece caught my eye.
Half hidden beneath discarded ribbons and bows:
The manger scene had been placed weeks ago.
Carefully clearing the bright paper away
I witnessed the reminder of that first Christmas day.
The Christ child rested in a bed simple and small
Sent by God into the world to save us all.
Nativity figures of that first silent night,
Made it quite clear what had been lost to sight.
“A Happy Christmas to all!” is because of God’s son,
On the day after, our Christmas has only begun.