stairways and sermons

I am always on the lookout for ways to describe an effective sermon.

One that I have picked up from somewhere in my Langham work - and now expanded - is to imagine the biblical author in the front seat listening to the sermon I preach from the text. And then ask myself one question, 'which way is the head nodding, as they listen to me?'

Is the nod from north to south and back again, communicating 'yes, you've got exactly what I intended'?
Is the nod from east to west and back again, communicating 'no, you have little understanding about what I was writing'?
Does the nod move involuntarily and waywardly southward, never to return north again, accompanied by slumber and snoring?

Well - take a look at this clip of one the great songs of my generation - Stairway to Heaven - being performed in front its original authors (Led Zepellin) at an evening held in their honour.

If I am not mistaken, the nodding among the authors is from north to south, accompanied by joy and a little rainfall as well. I love those glimpses of the original authors looking at each other and loving what they are hearing in the fresh performance for a new generation. That is the way it should be. Faithful, yet fresh. Today preachers are many generations adrift from the authors - not just one, as is the case here - but to draw forth a similar response is a feature of good preaching today.

Dear Jesus
By your Spirit, please help my preaching to draw forth similar nodding from those authors whom that same Spirit inspired so many generations ago. And as you do so, please help my sermons to provide stairways into heaven for listeners, taking them as worshipers right into your presence for whom all praise and glory (and standing ovations) are reserved.

nice chatting



StephenB said…
A great challenge here for our sermon preparation. Thanks my friend.
Paul said…
Yes indeed, Stephen.

This morning I preach from Luke - next week from John and maybe the week after that from Paul. To have the three of them respond like these three - up 'in the gods' among the great crowd of witnesses - surely, that is one permissible goal and prayer in my preaching? I think Jesus would quite like it like that...

Rhett said…
This was one of the best illustrations I've heard in ages.

Just don't play the song backwards! ;-)
Hugh Kemp said…
... Yes to all, but if you tease out the meanings within the song itself - goto get one commentator's - and the very emotions it engenders within the audience/congregation (I got wet eyed myself watching the clip, perhaps finally giving myself permission to enjoy, ney experience it) because the song in-and-of-itself is both individualistic and communal, imminent and essential, stationary and moving, straight and ascending, immense and silent, divine and pagan, spirit and material ... all at the same time. Surely the song itself is a sermon, not just an illustration of one?

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