August 28, 2011
Liturgical Sunday: Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Sermon Title: So how do we live?
First Presbyterian, Regina [audio:https://wordsfromthemiddle.ca/wp-content/uploads/110828_-_First_Presbyterian.mp3|titles=So how do we live?]
Well this week’s post is a little different, if nothing else it is a week late! What makes it more interesting is that this sermon is not from Knox or St. Mark’s but rather from First Presbyterian in Regina. Rev. Bradley Childs and I did a pulpit swap–he is the interim moderator for Knox and St. Mark’s and was there to preside over Communion and do a baptism. It was very nice to go back to First church. That unusually gracious congregation was the “victim” of my first long term preaching stint. Neither Heather nor I can recall exactly when it was but it was somewhere in the middle 1990s. I was coming out of a denomination that actually believed that 35 to 45 minute, multiple point sermons were the best (or maybe only!) kind of sermons.
Well several of the people at First Presbyterian very kindly, very graciously but unmistakeably helped me see that they neither needed nor wanted such homiletical abominations as I was serving them. Through their patience and input, and also Heather’s invaluable assistance, I slowly became someone who preached to the congregation in front of me rather than some theoretical construction. There is nothing wrong with lengthy sermons per se, although mine weren’t very good examples of such, but if the church in which you are preaching is expecting something on the order of 12 to 15 minutes it is your responsibility to respect that rather than ignore it because you were taught somewhere that longer is better. By the way, this sermon clocks in at 14:44.
This sermon comes from the Roman lectionary reading and the sermon title is an intentional homage to Francis Schaeffer’s How Shall We Then Live book and companion film series. I don’t think for a second that I am a Francis Schaeffer, and what with some folks are doing with his thought these days makes me doubly glad I am not him, but I wanted to get at the notion that the Bible is not simply a book of stories or moral theories. The Bible tells us, at least in some of its parts, how we should live . . . and this part of Romans is one of those parts.