Monday, June 11, 2007

My Three Sermons

I think that I preach basically three sermons.

1) It's God's love, not yours, so share it freely and unconditionally.
2) Go out there and do good stuff to make the world a better place.
3) Don't worry, everything's going to be okay, no matter what happens.

I'm pretty sure that every single sermon I've preached the past seven years is a variation of one of those three.


Elizabeth said...

Haha - I think I have two:

1) God loves you unconditionally. Stop being so hard on yourselves - God isn't. God loves you. Act out of that love.

2) Get your act together! God demands everything from us, not just the part we want to give. Discipleship is tough!

:) I totally know what you mean!

Anonymous said...

Amen, sir (and ma'am). The more you soak in the story, the more it has to be one of these. -howie

J R Akins said...

pretty slim pickings maybe the Center for Pastoral Excellence will be able to educate you to where you can preach the whole Gospel. St. Paul's sure dropped the ball in that reguard

Andy B. said...

dear jr -
Since the medium of blog comments does not allow for tone of voice, I am compelled to ask, "Are you serious, or are you *tongue in cheek* with your comment?"
- Andy B.

j r akins said...

Andy B, I think a little bit of both. Personally I want my sermons to contain more than "sweetness and light". And at this point in time I have a pretty cynical view of seminary trained clergy; especially those from St. Paul's. My apologies if my words harmed you. That was not my intent; merely generate a little thought.

Andy B. said...

j r akins,

"slim pickings"

"sweetness and light"

"dropped the ball"

"educate you"

"whole Gospel"

Which of these words specifically was not supposed to "harm me"?

Kyle in KC said...

I know in my head that God loves me unconditionally but it is hard to believe it in my heart. With some in the church they will only love me if I am celibate, others in the church will only love me if I do not say anything or "act gay" for the Confessing movement they will only love me if I go to therapy to be "cured". It is hard to give and receive love unconditionally when so many Christians only give love with strings attached. Keep preaching unconditional Love Rev Andy and perhaps someday I will hear the message.

Andy B. said...

Kyle, Thank you for your comment. You are indeed loved, just as you are, a love so deep that Jesus died for it. (See sermon #1) It may be tough, but our response to that divine love is to undertake the mission of Christ, to announce and embody the reign of God on earth. (See sermon #2) But that reign is not fully realized yet, so hard, hurtful things are going to happen to us along our way, which God will see us through. (See sermon #3).
Andy B.

Anonymous said...


Now that the subject has been broached, I wish to share my initial thoughts and/or reaction to the above offering.
When I read your post, I wasn't quite sure if this was a source of pride or embarrassment. I purposely did not comment earlier because 1) I did not wish to give the appearance of ripping or hurting you - especially so close after your ordination. I've disagreed with you previously, and you and others may have felt that I was using words as weapons to hurt area that we can agree to disagree on, but I digress. This leads to point 2) I don't need to offer an opinion on any or all matters; 3) I do not have any idea on how one in your profession prepares their sermons, decides topics of interest, etc. (I've talked with my father regarding his sermons and other talks that he has given to gain a better understanding, - all well before this post - however that is only a sample of one.) Last, I was waiting to see if others were puzzled like me, or just to read feedback from your contemporaries within the field.
I see God, His love and His power so vast and almighty, to limit it to just three categories. It seems rather limiting to you and those you serve. It gives the appearance that you may not be stretching yourself, and in turn may not be stretching those around you.
I could be wrong...


Andy B. said...

Okay, there is apparently some confusion here. Elizabeth gets it; Howie gets it.

Let me see if I can clarify for Joseph and perhaps others. My point is that the Gospel - as I have known it via 36 years of my life, 24 years of Christian discipleship, 95 hours of Master's level theological education, 12 years of ministry (including 7 years of pastoral ministry) - in all of its richness an beauty, in all of its power and energy, in all of its God-breathed mystery and wonder has for me three core themes that run throughout, undergird, and surround it. The three themes have to do with God's initiative, our response, and God's faithfulness in our response.

Rather than fences that keep God in a given field, I'm thinking of a central core around which the Gospel rotates. For the life of me, I cannot think of a sermon that does not have to do with God's initiative, our response, or God's faithfulness in the midst of our response.

Hope that helps clear it up for anybody still following this thread.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase a recently ordained UM pastor, since the medium of blog comments does not allow for tone of voice, there seems to be an edge to your comments or frustation in further explaining yourself to those of us - or just myself- that did not "get it". Once again, I could be wrong...

Respectfully and regrettably,

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but I end up just saying that "God is love"...seems to be working ;0) I believe that the Apostle John, one of the sons of thunder, in his final years uttered the one phrase, "children, love each other". Nice post and good lunch yesterday.

Peace, Rev. Jeremy

Will Deuel said...

We all have our chosen sermon shtick. I think sharing that openly and honestly is probably good for all of us. I have my "God's ways are not our ways" shtick (example: God's concept of justice has nothing to do with our concept of fairness), my "good works won't save you, but they are the best way of showing gratitude for your salvation" shtick, and my "God is alive and well" shtick, and my "Grace is easy but discipleship is hard" shtick. All are predicated on the unconditional love of God.

Great topic for discussion!

John said...

I've now preached about twelve times, so it's hard to get a reading on what my major themes are, but a guess:

1. Call to holines/perfection.
2. Call of sinners to repentance.
3. Assurance in God
4. How 'bout them Gators?

Anonymous said... too. Here are mine:

1. You are all equal so stop acting like you're better than everyone else.

2. God is way bigger than we could ever think or imagine.

3. Please stop acting so selfish and fix the world (in love, of course!)

- Jill (Gen X Clergy)