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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Preaching Made Simple

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Preaching Made Simple

Listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts, Sunday mornings at 7:30 AM, KOIT 96.5 FM in San Francisco especially to listen to the regular 2 and ½ minute sermon. The content is pretty schmaltzy but the form is superb. It is a simple one point and one-illustration talk. It is a fine model for preachers. The speaker chooses one point – love, justice, compassion etc. and tells a short story illustrating the point.

This morning he told the story of a Tony, Down’s Syndrome teen who got new clothes to go to the Philippines with his mother. When they got there they witnessed the aftermath of a hurricane, which left hundreds of people soaked, muddy, torn and injured. When they go to their hotel, Tony went to his room, put on his old clothes and went to the front desk with a plastic bag and talked haltingly to the clerk and asked that his new clothes be given to the displaced and soaked people who needed them. All were moved by this simple act of love.

Week after week the Mormon speaker finds simple stories to illustrate the point he wishes to make. We Anglican preachers have the luxury of twelve to fifteen minute sermons to elucidate a passage of scripture, find a sentence that summarizes what we want to say, illustrate the point, make a call to action and get over with it. The temptation is to get too complex, make too many points and dribble over all four Biblical passage read in the liturgy.

My wife Ann is an ethnic Mormon, now Episcopalian, and we both love choral music. Listening to the program over the years I began to appreciate the skill of the simple preaching.

I am sending this to clergy to help our preaching. I am sending it to lay people as a guide to what makes a good sermon.

RWC

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