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by Greg Cummings
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. (Romans 10:15 NIV)
The song service is finished. The sermon begins. During the first three sentences, expectant faces look toward the preacher.
A single mother sighs, praying her children will let her make it through the sermon, maybe even listen. An older man in failing health turns up his hearing aid. Frustrated and angry with diminishing strength and energy, he searches to make sense of his losses. A closet homosexual sits saturated in guilt. A high school sophomore listens with an MTV-conditioned attention span. She is not trained to listen long. A successful business person caught in the depths of depression hopes for an alternative to suicide.
A Bible class teacher dealing with major failure clings to faith by a fingernail. A married couple, sitting together in the pew but hardly speaking at home, hopes for renewal of lost affection. A frustrated parent of an angry teen looks for confidence. A widows eyes fill with tears as her hand touches the empty seat beside her. A cancer patient needs a reason to suffer through another chemo session. The mate is desperate for strength to persevere.
A contractor, competing with kickbacks and cheats, wonders if his ethics are antiquated. A nurse, exhausted from a twelve-hour-pressure-filled shift, hopes for renewal. A lonely soul hopes for connection with others. New Christians listen to build faith. Long-time members hope for revival from spiritual lethargy.
Debaters want a convincing argument. Condemners want a reason to feel superior. Tired church volunteers long for a boost. Frazzled church staffers need a shot in the arm. Elders need power to persevere through the pressure. Deacons need to be uplifted.
The preachers stands.
For three sentences everyone listens intently, wondering, Is there a word from God for me today?
Who dares to rise to preach in the face of such need? Who can meet such a multiplicity of expectations?
God can. Only God can.
God speaks through the preachers faltering words, stiff outlines, and overused illustrations. God speaks through his words, his tears, his personality, his humor, his gestures, his spirit. God uses unworthy vessels to anoint hearts, persuade minds, lift spirits, comfort pain, and enlighten understanding.
The power in preaching is not the preacher. It is God. God speaking through a man, gives a beautiful gift in a plain brown wrapper.
God has a word for you. Shhhhh. Listen.
Author: Greg Cummings
Publication Date: May 2, 2002
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