So there I was, sitting in the back row, having arrived a couple of minutes late for the service, but in plenty of time for the readings, saying the responses in all the right places. I stood up for the gospel. I said, "Praise to You, Lord Christ." I sat down for the sermon.
The preacher said, "Wasn't that the most poignant gospel?" And I thought, "What? What gospel? What did it say?" I never learned. I only looked it up now. And I wondered how many times have I assumed everyone had been paying attention to every reading and not bothered to refresh their memories--if indeed there were any memories there to begin with.
I worry about talking down to people, that by repeating the story I'm suggesting they're stupid. Today I'm thinking I'm just helping them out.
I always like hearing the story again at the start of the sermon - since no two summaries ever sound the same, getting the preacher's version of the reading gives me a good sense of what he or she thought was important about it before the sermon proper begins.
Things I do not like when I am listening to a sermon, should you be curious, include:
when the preacher starts out be asserting that "we" all do something that I'm pretty sure we *don't* all do
when the preacher manages voice levels and hand gestures so scrupulously that he or she gives the impression of acting a part instead of speaking a reflection
when the preacher skips the lectionary to talk about some lesson that we have not just heard or may not ever have heard
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