Unheard sermons

A friend of mine asks: ‘What are some particular subjects or passages that you have never heard a sermon on, which you would like to hear being addressed from a pulpit?’

I’m sure to think of other topics, but in my haste I fired back the following suggestion: ‘The sermon and the responsibility of, and invitation/command to, the hermeneutical community to hear the Word of God; i.e. how do we hear the sermon’.

How would you answer my friend?

[Image: Dave Walker]


  1. The sermon – my least favourite part of a church service. If I had my way, Handel’s “Messiah” would be played in the time set aside for the sermon. I could close my eyes and dream.


  2. I’ve heard two sermons recently on how to hear sermons. Law, both of them, and neither addressed to the hermeneutical community as reciprocally speakers of the Word of God. Both of them sounded half like pleas for the congregation to understand what the pastor was doing, and half like an attempt to evade doing it. So initially, your response makes me leery!

    Preaching about preaching is a hard thing to do right, though there are folks out there who do it well. In Barthian terms, you can’t preach a sermon *on* the Titanic sinking; you can only preach a sermon on the gospel, though you may do it from any text and for any situation. (Or, “… a good sermon …”) On the same idea, you cannot preach a good sermon on hearing the Word of God unless you are preaching the Word of God and enabling others to do likewise. Content, content, content!

    That said, great choice of comic. It reminds me of an anecdote: a man walks into church late, during a hymn, and since he hasn’t got a bulletin, he doesn’t know where they are in the order of service. So he asks a little boy next to him, “Is the sermon done yet?” The boy responds, “It’s been preached, but it ain’t been done.”


  3. After listening to a bit of “Messiah”, I’d probably be interested in hearing from Romans 14, a chapter I’m studying at home at the moment. Our preacher is new to us, and I’m pretty sure he views the constitution of christianity with the same importance I do.
    @ Terry: I think Judges 19 would also be an interesting topic for a sermon. It’d make morning tea afterwards a not-to-be missed event!


  4. Consumerism as idolatry.

    OK, to be honest, I have heard this once or twice. But I feel that it is possibly the primary idolatry of much of contemporary western culture and the frequency with which it is addressed does not match its import.


  5. Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold (3rd stanza)

    The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girlde furl’d.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
    And naked shingles of the world.


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