Confession: I do not read or study the art or craft of preaching as regularly as I should. Though I’m not entirely sure what “regularly” is, I am quite sure that it’s more often than what I’m currently doing. That being said, Meditations on Preaching by Francis James Grimké has been a real joy to read. The book is taken from Grimké’s diary where he wrote about preaching and Christian devotion. I’m reading it slowly, typically 1-2 pages a week. His words have brought challenge and encouragement.
Here are two particular excerpts I wanted to pass on:
A lady came up to me as the close of the service and, after shaking my hands cordially, said, “I thank you for that sermon. Every time I hear you preach I feel that I want to be a better woman, a better Christian.” I thanked her. There is nothing in the line of praise that she could have said to me that would have been half so acceptable as the simple assurance that what I said in the sermon helped her, had intensified, had deepened her desire to get on higher ground. That is the only kind of preaching that counts that is of any value in the sight of God or that results in any good to man. My earnest prayer is that more and more mine may be such a ministry, that more and more I may lose sight of self and think only of the good to be done, of those who come into the sanctuary who need the helping hand, the ministry of love, the tender, watchful care of some loving heart. (p. 10)
The minister should aim, in his public administrations, to make each service a kind of mount of vision for the people. Those who come to worship should get a glimpse of the truth, such views of life and duty, as the better to fit them to meet life’s trials, difficulties, perplexities. Peter and John went down from the mount of transfiguration with impressions that remained with them ever afterwards and that helped them in the experiences that were yet before them. What an opportunity the minister has, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to help those who come up to the house of the Lord, Sabbath after Sabbath. Every service should be a kind of mount of vision — a means of helping the people to see God and to see things from the Divine standpoint — and so be lifted to a higher plane, so be strengthened and fortified for the immediate tasks which may be before them. (p. 11)