100 days – Day 16 Storyteller
When I was a healthcare chaplain, my preaching style changed dramatically! from the time that I was ordained in 1974 (40 years next month!) until 1999 when I took up my post with NHS Dumfries and Galloway, my sermons would start with a Biblical text and then, after an introduction, would have three points, then a conclusion.
Incidentally, a visiting minister who came to preach one Sunday at the particular Church where I ministered several years ago, asked – during the children’s story – “Does Mr Strachan have three points?” Blank. Then a small voice, “No but Hearts got three points from yesterday’s football game!
Anyhow, my approach has changed. At the brief services for patients on a Sunday, I would tell an anecdote or use an illustration – a story, in fact – before ending by tying it into that morning’s Scripture. Now that I’m preaching full sermons again, there is now an expanded use of this method.
I mention this, because someone said to me yesterday evening, “you’re a good storyteller” in reference to a recent sermon.
In the 1970s and into the eighties, I always enjoyed reading Frank Boreham’s sermons and essays. He was a gifted storyteller. And, again, yesterday evening, I came across this quote by him. Here he is, talking about God:
He always speaks the universal language, the language of gesture and symbol and sign. He speaks to the universal heart by means of the Ark, the Scapegoat, the Passover, the Mercy Seat, the Serpent in the Wilderness, the Cities of Refuge. Such signs need no translation; they speak to people of every clime and time. In the New Testament the same principle holds true.
He talked of lilies, vines, and corn,
The sparrow and the raven,
And tales so natural, yet so wise,
Were on men’s hearts engraven.
And yeast and bread and flax and cloth,
And eggs and fish and candles;
See, how the familiar world
He most divinely handles.
When God has something really vital to say to people, God says it in a language that requires no translation or interpretation. God says it in a way that all people can comprehend. ‘The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom.’ All people everywhere can see the awful and profound significance of such a signal. A person may be unable to grasp the doctrine of the Atonement; but where is the heart that does not respond to the Vision of the Cross?”
Isn’t that beautifully expressed? Unlike the pupil, who, commentating on a particular School Chaplain’s storytelling approach to Religious Instruction, said, “I like Mr X’s stories. He’s got no morals!”