At the end of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, which launched the re-imagined television series, Commander Adama gives a rousing speech. Adama tells the gathered masses that, even though the human race has been pushed to the point of extinction, they will survive. They will survive by finding the fabled 13th colony, Earth, and doing whatever it takes to get there.
The speech casts a vision. The speech offers encouragement. The speech inspires those listening to form a new perspective on life.
Adama’s speech does everything a sermon should.
Yet so many sermons don’t even come close.
For all the sermons I’ve heard and given in my life, I can remember Adama’s speech better than most of the sermons. I even preached this past weekend and I’m a little fuzzy on some of those details.
One sermon in itself, though, doesn’t make that much of a difference. Over the course of weeks and months and years of listening to sermons, though, God can use them to make a difference in our lives. The most grace isn’t imparted through one sermon but from one sermon building upon another over a long period of time.
That being said, from week-to-week, some sermons have a greater impact on individuals than others. Maybe you appreciate personal illustrations. Maybe you’re impacted by a vivid story. Maybe you’re like a friend at my church who feels like it was a good sermon when he leaves feeling guilty.
I’m most impacted by a sermon when it has an insight into a passage of scripture that I hadn’t seen before. Knowing how I’m wired as a thinker, it makes sense that the intellectual insights of a sermon would get me going.
However a sermon speaks to us we shouldn’t carry the expectation that every sermon we hear is going blow our minds and change our lives. God, though, will use the discipline of gathering with our faith communities every week and listening to sermons to change our minds and transform our lives.
Even if they’re not as rousing as Adama’s speech from Battlestar Galactica.
What impacts you most in a sermon?