Theological Wisdom For Preaching and Teaching, Issue 107

April 4, 2017 by Presbyterian Foundation

On Jesus:

Monroe told the story of Christ from divine birth to bloody crucifixion. He included all the famous details and, while keeping it simple, he summoned all the eloquence he could. When he’d finished, he sat back waiting for a reaction.

Esco said, “And you say all this took place some time ago?”

Monroe said, “Two thousand years, if you consider that some time ago.”

“Oh, I’d call that a stretch all right,” Esco said. He looked at his hands where they hung from his wrists. He flexed the fingers and looked at them critically as if trying the fittings of a new implement. He thought on the story a while and then said, “And what this fellow came down for was to save us?”

“Yes,” Monroe said.

“From our own bad natures and the like?”

“And still they done him like they did? Spiked him up and knifed him and all?”

“Yes indeed,” Monroe said.

“But you say the story’s been passed around some hundred score years?” Esco said.


“So to say, a long time.”

“A very long time.”

Esco grinned as if he had solved a puzzle and stood up and slapped Monroe on the shoulder and said, “Well, about all we can do is hope it ain’t so.”

Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

On Worship:

Sunday was a weekly battle that Annie relished. She not only wanted to skip church, she wanted to elucidate other family members in the folly of their going. While others arrived at the breakfast table dressed for service, Annie would waltz down late, waving around a Blockbuster Video bag. “While you’re listening to the shaman drone on and on, I’ll be here enjoying the Sunday paper, my orange juice, and a Preston Sturgis comedy.”

There was a short-lived attempt to coerce church attendance by grounding her or withholding privileges of some kind but Annie declared she would simply stand right up in church, interrupt the sermon anytime she felt something ignorant, fatuous, or demonstrably hypocritical was being preached with questions like: If we’re so full of brotherly feeling, why aren’t there any black people in our gated community of a church? Or: In imitation of Jesus, I think we should have an outreach to the men’s shelter not four miles from here. I will draw up the flyers and arrange for transportation. Any Christian objections? Her mother and father believed she would do it, too, so she got to stay home.

Wilton Barnhardt, Lookaway, Lookaway

On Easter:

Easter had always struck Fogel as a holiday without real punch, though there was, among the more vivid of his childhood memories, a magical peep into a big sugar egg … But, generally, the festivity that should attend the day had fallen rather flat: quarrelsome and embarrassed family church attendances, with nobody quite comfortable in pristine Easter clothes; melancholy egg hunts in some muddy backyard, the smallest child confused and victimized; headachy brunches where the champagne punch tasted sour and the conversation lagged.

John Updike, Short Easter