Preacher Blues

“It has all been said before,” is never more true than for sermons.Thinking about all the sermons that have been preached in all the churches for all the years can cause great despair in any preacher. Whatever creative thoughts one may have–it has certainly been said before.This becomes daunting when one knows of a great sermon that has been preached when working on a particular text for a new sermon. This is the case for me this Sunday.

This Sunday’s scripture reading, in the narrative lectionary, is the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel. She is the mother of the prophet Samuel who will become the one who picks the first kings of Israel, Saul and David. As I think about what to preach I can’t help but remember the Rev. Dr. James Forbes famous sermon, “Hannah Rose.” Dr. Forbes was professor of preaching at Union Theological Seminary when I was a student there and later became Senior Minister of the Riverside church. As one of the most prominent and, unarguably, top preachers of our time he has the opportunity to preach across the nation. This, of course, means he may share his best sermons in many different settings. It is an amazing testament to the power of “Hannah Rose” that he knows of at least a dozen girls who have been named after the title of his sermon. Wow!

I am sure that there will be many churches across the country this Sunday where congregations will hear versions of Dr. Forbes’ original sermon. (We preachers are good borrowers.) On this Sunday, I plan a different path, but may have to work in some of Dr. Forbes’ quotes–they are too good to resist. I hope you have a chance to watch Dr. Forbes’ preach his famous sermon (the link is above) to see a true master at the top of his game. And I hope you come to church on Sunday so you may hear my take on the text and let me know what you think during our coffee hour. It may all have been said before, but not in the way I am going to say it.

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