Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Size of Things

Sunday I preached on Luke 17:5-10 in which Jesus tells the disciples that all they need is mustard-seed-sized faith, and then tells them a parable about an overworked slave. (Listen here "How to eat an elephant" if you’re curious.) And although Jesus said that a very tiny amount of faith is enough to do great things, I wonder if the same is true for a tiny amount of sermon? The current trend in preaching practices is to keep the sermon to fifteen to twenty minutes, which perhaps seems like an eternity to the listener, but to me almost always leaves me feeling like I've barely scratched the surface of the subject.

I suppose there’s always more that can be said. What I’d really like, though, is to know what those in the pews have to say on the subject. Where do they stand on the matter? Instead of ending with a “so here it is” kind of statement, maybe I could end with, “so what do you think?” And then what happens? Maybe I’m not alone and it’s every preacher’s dream that the sermon would be so thought provoking that everyone would hang around afterwards to talk about the concepts presented, or hurry out to lunch to get to talking about it around the table before the questions it prompted faded away. Wouldn't it be crazy if we actually had those conversations in church? Some churches actually do this. I have a feeling they don’t do their services quite the way we do. We’d have to be a bit more flexible about the clock, and maybe a little less tied to hitting all our liturgical marks.

Even if we had discussion time in church, would it be enough? How much is enough? Well, here we’re back to the beginning, I suppose—how much faith is enough? If mustard-seed-sized faith is enough, is mustard-seed-sized discussion enough, too? Or is it ok, even desirable, to leave us wanting more? Maybe it’s ok if what we want more of is God?

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