A long time ago now I made a decision that instead of preaching 3 point sermons as a matter of principle, I would try and make one point in each sermon. It is not an absolute rule, but more than not I stick to that approach. I guess part of the reason is I want people to really get what I am saying. I guess another part of the reasoning was I can make point 2 the following week, God willing!
I find at the moment that something similar has happened with my reading patterns as well. Normally I used to always read to the end of a Chapter, trying to digest the whole story or all the points. Since retiring though, I now find I have time to close a book when I have read to a point that has made an impact. There is no pressure to get to the end of the chapter. I can savour more, make sure I have fully grasped rather than half-grasped what the author is saying. The habit of skim reading has been difficult to break. It goes back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was a student, although it is a useful tool to hold on to, as not everything in the Christian book scene written merits savouring.
Well, I stopped at “impact point” today while reading a book I have previously mentioned, “Being Disciples; the essentials of Christian Life” (SPCK 2016) by Rowan Williams. I am making extremely slow progress with the book, not because it is especially difficult to read, but because there are so many impact points in every chapter. I confess it is the first book by Rowan Williams I have ever read and I hope it will not be the last. It has taken me a month to get through 3 short chapters; they are just so good! Buy it!! Read it again and again! Let me share the thoughts that left me shutting the book and thinking with a mixture of joy and longing earlier today: “… what the Church is fundamentally, and must show itself to be, is a place where time and space are given, where people are allowed the space to experience eternal love, a place where nothing needs to be left at the door and where people are made free to receive in a world that can seem to be demanding of them all the time…” (Page 33). As well as joy and longing, I was moved by a slight sense of sadness as I read these words: is this what church seems like to those who attend regularly or to those who cross the threshold for the first tentative visit? Well, I am still wondering….
Give some time to wonder about this with me….
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