.”My first sermon may not be remembered by anyone else but me, but it did have some redeeming qualities:
*It was mercifully brief. Only twenty minutes in length, it was easily fifteen minutes shorter than the average Sunday morning sermon of 1978.
*It was extremely well rehearsed. I literally stood in the old Otumoetai church of Christ pulpit and repeatedly preached it to an empty auditorium in the dead of night. No ‘off-the cuff’ content included.
*When I stood up to preach, I had the assurance of heart that everyone who was sitting before me wanted me to do well.
From my earliest days as a Christian, I appreciated that speaking from the pulpit was a privilege. I wanted to preach, and I understood that faith, knowledge and respect were expected. The process began in the same way for all men. We were asked to take part in devotionals, usually before smaller groups, where you would lead a prayer or read a short scripture. Then came opportunities to pray and read scripture at Wednesday night class and Sunday night church. All going well you graduated to the Sunday morning Worship Roster to ‘Open’ or ‘Close’ in prayer or ‘Assist’ at the Lord’s Table. If you were raised in the church, it may have come naturally, but for those of us from the outside, it was daunting.
When the congregation had enough confidence in you, you were asked to lead the congregation in their thoughts at the Lord’s Table. This was an honour and a milestone.Those “Lord’s Supper” talks led to devotional talks, teaching a Bible Class or your first full-length sermon.
Preaching was all that mattered to me. I was 17 and wanted to change the world. I wanted everyone to be like Jesus and the people whose lives he had transformed by the preaching of the Bible. Naturally, idealism was to be smashed on the rocks of reality. Along with the tremendous good done by most Christians, apathy and wilful sin showed their ugly faces soon enough. But the cure for this sinful world was real! The cure I preached then is the cure I preach now—“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1Cor.2:2).
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