One of the finest preachers I have ever heard was Rev. George B. Duncan who was minister of St. George’s Tron in the centre of Glasgow. In my early days as a young believer I was so aware of God speaking straight into my life again and again through his preaching, Sunday by Sunday. For me that was the most exciting day of the week. I knew I would meet with God through the power of His Word. I often saw a glow around Mr. Duncan and particularly on his face, which I didn’t really understand at first, but I came to believe it was the presence of God, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I know I did not imagine it because others have mentioned they saw the same. How blessed I was to benefit from that man’s ministry and from the excellent ministry of his successor, the Rev. Eric J. Alexander, probably to this day one of the very finest and most anointed bible teachers I have ever heard. The memories are sweet and precious to me even decades on in time. It is good to hear of new life blossoming in that church again under the ministry of the wonderful, wise and courageous leadership of Rev. Alastair Duncan. I was excited to hear recently of fresh growth and the appointing of new elders.
As this Sunday comes around, I am remembering Mr. Duncan speaking in a sermon about a time when he had been preaching in another church where there was a vacancy. Someone came up to him after the service and said, “Mr. Duncan, we have seen something in the pulpit today that we have not seen for the last 25 years.” Mr. Duncan asked, “What is that?” The reply? “A smile!”
Mr. Duncan said to us all with incredulity, “Imagine someone preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ for 25 years without a smile!” One of the ways in which Job defended himself from accusation is that he “smiled on those who had no confidence.” A smiling face from an awesomely high pulpit is all I can remember about Mr. Duncan’s predecessor, Rev.Tom Allan who had a quite legendary ministry in the city centre of Glasgow. As a 3 or 4 year old, it was his smile that made an impression on me. I occasionally find myself remembering it to this day five and a half decades on in time.
Referring to that incident in the vacant church, Mr. Duncan went on to say something I have never forgotten in all my years preaching. He said that people come to church after perhaps a week in which they may have been shouted at by their boss, shouted at by their spouses, shouted at by their family, shouted at by their work colleagues, perhaps they have even been shouted at by themselves and then sadly often they go to church on Sunday where they are shouted at and whipped again by their minister!
Fellow preachers, life can be quite a struggle for people. Remember that, as you look out on your congregation this weekend. Perhaps, if you do, it will influence your tone and even your face. Perhaps your face will glow with the Holy Spirit as your words are warmed by the flame of God’s love. You might not know it is happening, but the people will see it, sense it and thank God for it and for you. Indeed they may well still be saying the occasional ‘Thank You’ to God not simply for what you said but even more so for the way you said it, decades from now….
“May it be so Lord, Amen”
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