Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father and Son Father's Day Sermon

I’m a little nervous about this Sunday’s sermon. The jitters are not because of an outlandish preaching experiment that could possibly offend someone. The problem is not an extremely difficult to explain Biblical passage (It’s Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child…”). As far as I know there is not going to be a celebrity in the crowd that would make me antsy (Both Barry Manilow and Alice Cooper will be in Kansas City this weekend. While it is unlikely, I suppose one of them could slip into the early service. But even if they do, I don’t think Pastor Kevin will do a tribute of either Alice Cooper’s “School’s out” or Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”). So those guys are not why I’m jumpy. I’m nervous because this Sunday my son, Ben, will help me preach the Father’s Day sermon. This will be his first ever sermon. Ever. I remember my first sermon. It was on a Sunday night in Alanson, Michigan following my sophomore year of college. I hand wrote the sermon manuscript in a blue spiral notebook. My text was from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In that passage Paul encouraged the believers to run in such a way to win the prize. I think I chose that passage because I knew more about sports than the Bible and that was the only sports reference that I could find in the Bible (not counting the classic biblical baseball text of Genesis 1:1, “in the big inning…”). My sermon on that night will not go in the annals of Christian history as one of the greatest sermons of all time. I preached that sermon in the summer of 1983. 29 years ago this month. And I still remember it. The good, bad and ugly—I remember it all (there was more bad and ugly than good, in case there was any doubt). Ben will always remember this Sunday. I don’t think I will forget it either. My concern is not that he perfectly articulates each point. I won't be worried if he happens to stumble through a few words (my goodness I have preached over 2,000 sermons now and if you've sat through any of those 2,000 "gems" then you know I can butcher the English language with the worst of them). Here's my prayer-- that Ben will faithfully proclaim the Word of God. I don’t care if he botches the pronunciation of “Nebuchadnezzar,” but I do care that he always is faithful. I hope that he preaches 'full of grace and truth" in a manner worthy of Christ. For our family, this Father's Day will be one we won't forget. My prayer is that God uses both Ben and I and that those listening will long remember the morning not because of what was said by a preacher and his son-- but because of what God does deep in their heart. See you Sunday-- but please leave your rotten vegetables at home-- just in case it doesn't go well I don't want to have to dodge a flying tomato.

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