Preacher Camp

I spent Monday at a preaching workshop. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Long, professor of preaching at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta was the speaker. Dr. Long is one of the best preachers and most highly regarded teacher of preachers in the country. He did not disappoint. He was funny, insightful, and intellectually challenging. Everything one wishes for in a teacher.

It is such a treat to be able to spend a day learning new things and remembering stuff I had known once before. Getting out of the usual day to day routine allows me to gain a new perspective on what I do. And that was the best part of the day. We preachers do something special. We have the sacred trust of our congregations to stand up each Sunday and say something about the role of God in our lives. But, as with anyone, we can become stale with repetition and time. I know I need to step back occasionally and remember what it is the most important part of what I do.

This is a good metaphor for Lent. The fast of Lent, or, in our case, the practice of gratitude, reminds us of what is most important in our lives. The gratitude practice for this week is to write in our journal about a bad time in our life. It doesn’t have to be the worst of times, but some time when you were in pain, or felt down. Then, write down your five blessings for the day. The contrast between the two makes the blessing shine ever brighter. This is one of the gifts of suffering. We may not ask for it, but even in the downturns of life we can be grateful for all the gifts of the day.

Let me know if the sermon sounds any better. And let me know if it sounds worse. I do appreciate honest feedback—that is the only way I’m going to become better. Preaching is a craft that develops over a lifetime. I know that I am certainly a whole lot better than when I began, and I hope to keep improving as long as God allows me to participate in this amazing sacred act.


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