Preaching Connection: Fear

Reading for Preaching

The Collected Sermons of William H. Willimon

Willimon writes about a church member he used to have—a man who owned a hardware store. He was hard on preachers who, in 1968, presented their weekly diatribe against Nixon and the Vietnam War. On one occasion of such doings, he “had stood up from where he was sitting, shook his head, and walked right...
Explore

What Jamie Saw

A story about a good woman whose boyfriend Van one day tosses her daughter, actually hurls her daughter, whom, fortunately the mother catches. That’s the day the mother, her son Jamie (who saw the throw and the catch), and Jamie’s half-sister Nin move out of Van’s house. So the (by now half-famous) first sentence of...
Explore

Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

She cites a lovely passage from Augustine: “Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety, so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security . . . We shall have no enemies in heaven, we shall never lose a friend. God’s praises are sung both there...
Explore

Additional content related to Fear

Hebrews 12:18-29

What might Christian worship look like if each service began with Hebrews’, “Let us … worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”? What affect on worship might a sticky note on preachers, worship planners and leaders’ computers that read, “Let us … worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” have? Those who proclaim and hear…

Explore

Luke 8:26-39

This is most definitely one of those texts that sends our modern senses spinning for application. Most of us do not have experience with exorcisms, and are generally uncomfortable with the idea/reality of demons. It may seem odd to say, but we can almost side-step the whole demonic exorcism if we focus our attention on…

Explore

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

Sample sermon: When I go to different parts of the U.S. or Canada to speak or to preach, I often travel alone.  When I do, I sometimes enjoy going out to eat by myself at a restaurant.  It can be very interesting just to watch people and observe what is going on in ways you…

Explore

Luke 5:1-11

Fear, as we all know, is a powerful motivator. History is full of proof of fear’s ability to keep awful people in power—and if we look deep enough, we also see how awful people are motivated by their own fears. But we also know from the biblical account that not all fear is a reaction…

Explore

Mark 9:38-50

It seems that the deflecting from discomfort that we saw last week is continuing this week. Though it may not seem like it at a first read through, Mark has placed this set of sayings here for a reason. Instead of the usual suspect, Peter, it’s John who speaks up this time. It could be…

Explore

Mark 9:30-37

Verses 30-37 in Mark 9 provide us a very clear picture of a human response to fear and confusion: changing the subject instead of taking the risk to look foolish. Who likes to look dumb? Worse yet, it was just last week when we heard Peter speak up and “question” Jesus, and where did that…

Explore

Mark 4:35-41

For fishermen ostensibly accustomed to being out on the water—presumably in all kinds of weather—the  disciples sure panicked over the weather often enough in the gospels.  The only calm one in all those storms-at-sea situations was the land-lubber carpenter from Nazareth.  So also here in Mark 4: with just a word, Jesus, who had not…

Explore

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

It would be very difficult to pick a more fitting text for this last Sunday of Advent.  After focusing with ever growing intensity on the coming of God’s salvation, we are just 5 days away from our celebration of the birth of the long-promised Messiah. This text is “the mother of all Messianic prophecies,” “the…

Explore

Isaiah 7:10-16

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, just 3 days away from Christmas, our reading from Isaiah 7 doesn’t seem very Christmasy.  Oh, it does if we focus only on verse 14 and the way our Gospel reading for today interprets it (Matthew 1:18-25). But if we read our text in its context, there’s no hint…

Explore

Matthew 11:2-11

“The War on Christmas.”  We have heard about this a lot in recent years.  Some while back people assailed Starbucks for removing the word “Christmas” from their holiday coffee cups.  Some were upset some years ago that the White House wished a blanket “Happy Holidays” instead of specifically mentioning Christmas.  And some while back the…

Explore

Luke 8:26-39

What do you suppose they were all so afraid of?  After all, that is the bottom line of this dramatic and startling story in Luke 8: all the witnesses and all the townsfolk were afraid. What was it that did them in, fear-wise?  Was it the sight of all those dead pigs floating in the…

Explore

John 14:8-17 (25-27)

This is our Pentecost text, of course, but the setting in John 14 takes us back to that last night before Jesus died, some 53 days before Pentecost arrived. What that means is that even though this text ends up talking about peace and of Jesus’ telling the disciples “do not be afraid” (Jn. 14:27),…

Explore

John 20:19-31

Sample Sermon:  Why didn’t they go looking for him? Today we pick up right where we left off last week on Easter here in John 20.  When last we saw the disciples, Mary Magdalene had just burst in with the excited and exciting news, “I have seen the Lord!” Earlier that day, when Mary told…

Explore

Psalm 27

C.S. Lewis said somewhere that when you add it all up and consider it all together, in the end we would all find that our prayer life is also our autobiography.  Who we are, where we’ve been, the situations we’ve faced, the fears that nag us, and not a few of the core characteristics of…

Explore

Mark 9:38-50

The challenge of this lectionary text is that it reads like a hodgepodge of Jesus’ sayings, something like the book of Proverbs with its often unconnected string of wisdom sayings. Because of its lack of apparent cohesion, it would be difficult to build a coherent sermon by moving though the entire text. So, the text…

Explore

Mark 9:30-37

Digging Into the Text: Jesus and the disciples are “on the road again,” headed for Jerusalem.  But Jesus didn’t want anyone to know.  He didn’t want any more disturbances or interruptions because he was teaching the disciples, preparing them for what lay ahead.  Now, for the second time he tells them exactly what it is…

Explore

Mark 9:38-50

Comments and Observations: Unity is important in preaching and teaching.  We drill that message into our seminary students in preaching class.  We often refer to the mnemonic device devised by Paul Scott Wilson that can be remembered by the phrase “The Tiny Dog Is Now Mine.”  The first letter of each word in that phrase…

Explore

Mark 9:30-37

Questions to Ponder / Issues to Address: It’s quite a picture: Jesus is walking up ahead of his disciples.  Outwardly Jesus is watching the path ahead, minding the curves in the road and stepping over potholes.  Inwardly the eyes of his heart are on the cross and on all that was now just ahead of…

Explore