One of the preachers who I greatly respect said that one of the sad things about sermons is that the majority of them are preached only once. He wrote about how some of his best sermons were those that that he preached once in his church and then reworked for another occasion.
This past Sunday, I thought that I presented a very good sermon on a well known text from the Bible. It is the text from John 21 where Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him more than these. We do not know what ‘these’ refers to– it could be the disciples, the boats or whatever Jesus Christ pointed to whenever he said these. Peter replies that indeed he loves him and then Jesus tells him to feed his lambs and his sheep.
I focused on the fact that each one of us – pastors and lay people - have been entrusted to feed those who God has given in our keeping. God can call us to care for our children, a group of young people, or our whole neighborhood. I connected that with the fact that in the Day of Judgment we as pastors will have to give an account of our flocks and I believe that all of us will give an account for ourselves and those in our care.
At the end of the Worship Service, some of the members of the congregation thanked me for the great sermon that really spoke to them. One of the parishioners also reminded me of a point that I had completely missed – in the Greek language there are different words for the word love, but only one in English. I appreciated that fact and I thanked my kind member. I must state that I am very excited when members listen to my sermons and then add angles that I missed or items that they think that it will improve my sermon.
In the afternoon I attended another service, which was an ordination to the gospel ministry. The pastor who gave the charge to the two candidates used the same text that I used in the morning, but he focused on one single idea – the lambs and the sheep belong to Jesus Christ. They are his, not ours, and he is the one who commanded us to feed them. This pastor expanded on the fact that the excellent feeding takes place by pastors who always remember that the lambs and the sheep belong to God and we have been entrusted with providing the best feeding for them.
I do not know if I will ever preach that sermon again, since I usually preach a sermon only once. However, I think that my pastor friend is right when he said that congregational sermons are best – when we allow the people of God to add new insights to a well-preached sermon.