Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quentin Tarantino on Preaching

Now there are two words that you don't see right next to each other very often - Quentin Tarantino and Preaching.  (Quentin Tarantino, if you are not familiar with his work, is the "dark" film director who made such movies as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds - need I say more).  However, the other day while Quentin was delivering an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes for a recently received award for directing, he said an important thing:  "I want to thank all of you out there who just listened to me when I was reading my movie scripts.  The truth is that I never really wanted your advice, I just wanted to...


and that has made all the difference for me."

One of the most important lessons on preaching that I can offer, and I offer it because I have been made aware that there are a few young preachers who regularly read this blog-post, is this.  When you are writing your weekly message you must write it while listening to the words you write, "through the congregation's ears."  Each week when I write, I spend about 4 to 5 hours by myself at my desk.  But the truth is that I am never alone when I write.  As I sit at my desk, I also imagine that there are 4,000 members of my congregation sitting there and writing with me.  I write, and I hear the sermon through their ears.

But that isn't really the half of it.  In addition to the 4,000 or so people in my church who are with me when I write, I also imagine the weekly crowd of around 700 who are with me on Livestream from around the country.  I imagine the farmer in Montana who is listening, and I imagine the stock broker in New York City who has tuned in.  I imagine the 250,000 members of the armed services who reside in Colorado Springs also listening in, and I imagine the 450,000 other residents who also live in my city listening in.   I imagine the childhood, second grade teacher that I had growing up - Mrs. Sheets, listening in, and I imagine my friends from the seminary in Kerala, Kotayim, India listening in.  I...


The truth is, this maxim of Quentin's also applies to so many other aspects of our lives.  Sometimes people may come to us with a deep personal pain or a grief that they want to share.  A friend may pour out a long sad story about a divorce or a death in the family.  One of the worst things we can do, if the timing is not right, is to offer ADVICE about what the person should do.  Most of the time when people are telling us their griefs or their woes they just want to


Somehow, by watching our facial expressions or tuning into the emotions of another person's heart, we can get a feeling for where we are as individuals without hearing words from them.  If a person tells me a grief story, I often count it a privilege to simply sit and listen, and know that the words that they are speaking are being bounced off my ears and my heart, and that that reflection of the grief story is actually a healing dynamic in and of itself.

And perhaps that is one of the most important things that can be said of prayer.  When we pray, we are sharing our "deep heart's core" (to quote WB YEATS), with God.  What we need most is not a stentorian piece of advice from the heavens, but what we need most is that,


All For Now,

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