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Eric's Sunday Sermon; A Sermon Is About You

Updated on January 26, 2016

Just another climb to make

How do I get myself into these hikes?
How do I get myself into these hikes? | Source

To think about, not what to think

There I was doing what I like to do before the sun comes up. That would be reading my Bible and meditating on the Word. Pretty strange stuff to do for someone. If you think about it sitting there all alone and reading a 2,000 year old text and then continuing to sit there and think about it is strange by most standards. But hey it works for me.

Now do not get me wrong as I attend church regularly. I like it. I like the traditions and my son and I like to see the folks who attend and we like the hugs and handshakes and the being nice to each other. And in our case we love the music. We kind of get dressed up, no ties thank you. We always talk about what we learned in church with each other and it leads to nice meaningful discussions about something that is important to both of us. Just last night after a rough pillow fight he just said out of the blue – “I sure love God”.

So then one would ask if I do all that; why don’t I quote more scripture in these Sunday Sermons. And why do I use the title Sunday Sermon when just the thought of a sermon turns a whole lot of people off. Well the answer to both is wrapped up into one simple answer. That is not my purpose and softening the attitude toward a sermon is part of my purpose. You see the sermon cannot be about me but rather about you. Normally when we think of a sermon we think of a preacher citing scripture and then telling us what it means. I prefer not citing scripture and questioning what it means. One can see and read and study scripture on their own and they should. You see I think that the Bible is a “to me” book of good thoughts. In my home I will read a verse to my young son and ask him what it means to him. Of course there is guidance as some of the words need to be explained and some of the historical context needs to be explained. We do not live on a farm and gathering wheat kind of needs some explanation. Pictures are helpful.

Wow – that was long winded just to get to this point. (Perhaps another reason people do not care for sermonizing ;-)

Not another sermon dad!

You can't get it right all the time.
You can't get it right all the time. | Source

You don't another hero

Empathy?

Think of it this way. What if I were to write a nice short story here? How would you like it if I stopped every few lines and explained what I was doing in following the rules of grammar? They kind of do that in legal writing and the common response is BORING and confusing. Now you in your life have the same quandary. Should I just say what I am thinking or should I go into a long winded explanation of why I am thinking in that way? And finally I get to discuss, empathy.

Now Paul is writing to the Corinthians who are having a tough road to hoe with regard to treating folks like they are all children of God and equal in the eyes of the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 he talks about having to be all things to all people so that they will abide by him and listen to what he has to say, which is important. What he is really describing in modern terms is what we call empathy. One must be careful not to get carried away in it or we become another modern concept I call chameleon co-dependency. We feel the other person so much that we lose our own self-identity and become ill in needing to fulfill their needs. So here we talk about common decency empathy. Sympathy is easy, you feel bad for you for someone else’s pain. Empathy is when you feel their actual pain and feel their bad. Or it can just be a normal setting where you feel what they feel. So the good sermon is about first feeling what the audience is feeling and then steering them to a better place and space for the moment and then leaving some “think abouts” for later.

Much to be learned here

It seems to me that this book should be read with kindness and love. Not shouting and screaming.
It seems to me that this book should be read with kindness and love. Not shouting and screaming. | Source

We need a shepherd

Your preacher must reach for excellence

We could do that here with quotations from the Bible a plenty. And we would not be all things to all. We could completely leave out reference to the Bible but we would not be all things to all. But that is not good enough. Somehow we must challenge all people to write their own sermon to compliment this one. Each person must be their own preacher. I would say the trite thing here “most people do not want to work that hard”. But that would be a lie and would take the burden off of the preacher’s shoulders. And it belongs there. The preacher must arouse. The preacher must incite. The preacher must lift you up to do better than you thought you could before the sermon. The preacher must set you up for victory in finding your own thoughts.

Alas we fall far short here. And we know it. But it is important for all of us to have this critical view of those that would preach with us, at us and for us. Please read these sermons critically. Sharpen you minds on dissecting what is good and meditating on that: Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (see I can sneak in a few verses when it suits me and I think it works, but note we will get back to this when we talk about you)

Take stock of yourself

And finally my friends we have set the table and prepared for today’s meal of thought.

Just assume for a moment that I am a preacher. And you are the congregation. Who is the most important part of this equation? If you hesitate for a second you need some work. The listener is always the most important part of a sermon. One time I was preparing to give a sermon for Thanksgiving. It would be a full house and what we were going to be talking about was the gift of giving thanks. Kind of important for believers in God. For some reason my wife had taken a keen interest in how I would do in front of “her” friends and fellow gossips (just kidding sort of,, we know it happens, admit it). So I went in early and practiced the sermon. Dumbest thing I ever did. Without my friends the sermon did not mean a thing and practice was just plain silly. The listener is so important that you cannot practice because it means nothing how you say it, it only matters how it is received.

Now to you. Love and compassion and a willingness to listen. You have those attributes. Yes you do. This sermon does not mean anything without your patience and guidance through reaction. An empty gong as it were. So all of this was a great big set up. A set up so that you can see just how important you are. We are all humans living this life the best we can. A sermon does not mean squat if not for the people willing to let it make a difference. And those people are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy so meditate on yourself.

I mean this wholeheartedly. Paul tells us what is good. And you are good. So as I related in the beginning about meditating on the word. You do likewise and meditate on you for you are the living word by your kindness, love, compassion and goodness. Please just take the time to sit still, breathe deeply and repeat: I am me and I am good. Take my word for it – you are.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence, I had the same issue when I preached in a church. I just think that there is a good time for bible study. And then there is a good time to "chat" about living the good life. I originally called these sermons for a specific reason and that was so that nobody could read it and complain that I was preaching too much.

      Thank you for coming by and commenting.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      I love the fact that your 'sermons' (sorry but to me they're more like a friendly chat over a coffee, or rather tonight was with a beer!) and not full of 'Bible verses' yet they are totally 'Biblical'

      Thank you for taking the time to connect with us this way.

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Frank. Please don't stop I need the encouragement. It is a nice thing that you leave me a note when you stop by. I appreciate it.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton

      I get so much from your Sunday sermons ... I know I say all the time, but it still rings true.. and new to me as well.. awesome my friend :)

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, I most certainly cannot answer all his questions, yet. So we keep the discussions going and at least we are learning to ask. Thank you

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 23 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, you do well to discuss the sermon with your son. Have you been able to answer all his questions so far? This message is empowering. Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We are uplifted by you getting through your problems and coming back to bless us with your great spirit. I am glad things are looking up for you so that you can make them look up for me.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 23 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Thank you Eric. I've been away for health reasons and then when I was up and running, my computer broke. I had to wait until I had cash to buy a new one. Finally, that day arrived. I'm up and running, but playing catch up now. It's good to see you and to be able to read your messages on a regular basis again.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow Marlene!! It is great to hear from you -- too long. I hope all is well with you. Thank you for dropping in and lifting me up.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 23 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I like your sermons, Eric, because you definitely reach for excellence when you share the word with us.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Devika, I am glad you found this helpful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Patricia, I have recently seen that cycle in the church I attend. The new young guy (58) is on fire and you feel it. It is a fact that personalities make up a church. I wish you well in the coming change. It is good to hear from you and I hope you are well.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting message and so helpful from your great meaning of life.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 23 months ago from sunny Florida

      Outstanding....as I read this early this morning after having read daily prayer from Guideposts and today's passage from Jesus is Calling...my day begins with peace. Our rector never learned these lessons, sad to say. He is a Bible scholar and spends much time, often to the point of being tedious, citing and explaining...little time is left for the message to connect to us. However that has been his calling and this is not intended as a criticism of him...it is how he is. I do long for hearing words that connect the message to me and my life and do not shudder when Bible verses are quoted...he is soon to retire and his successor will be like you Eric...I know him well and he will breathe new life into our tiny church.

      Awesome way to begin my day.

      Hoping all is well with you and yours..

      Angels are on the way to you this morning from Florida. ps Shared

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      kathleen, you are most welcome. I just love a Sunday Sermon. I have a guy I like and so I go. It is cool. We all get into a singing groove and exalt each other. I admit i like the feel good. If our hearts are open then we hear.

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 23 months ago

      Every time I attend a Sunday service, I am able to learn something that will help me make positive changes in my life. Sometimes I learn what works and sometimes I learn what doesn't work so well. I agree with the preacher or minister striving for excellence. I think we can all benefit from this goal. I learned a long time ago that striving for perfection can hold me back. Striving for excellence allows me to make progress. Thanks for sharing. Great Hub! Blessings!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise it is good to remember, that we are all so alike in so many ways. I also have lost myself into someone else. Bad for everyone. We have a fun saying about developing your empathy in a healthy way. "the good news is you feel a lot more about the people around you, the bad news is you feel a lot more about the people around you. We must remain vigilante and prayerful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Shanmarie, you make me realize how grateful I am to have the blessing to take the time to look into these matters that I consider really important. Be assured you nice comment was well received.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Brian I am afraid that you are at least partially right -- I just could not get the right logic flow on this one. It was like I put two together. Thank you for noticing I will look up your recommended reading.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana you are too kind -- and I like it! Just a few words can change another's day, thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby you remind me that Doctors treat disease and nurses treat patients. Wow what a difference a good nurse can make in a life. Of course there are three in my immediate family do I am biased. Thank you for sharing that with us.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Venkatachari, thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment. It makes me happy that you enjoyed it.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, it is so hard to keep your ego in check when you preach. You know full well, I wrote this for myself. I need to sit back and listen to my own advice sometimes. Probably good for all of us.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 23 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      You struck a cord in me, Eric, when you said, "We feel the other person so much that we lose our own self-identity and become ill in needing to fulfill their needs." After my marriage, I fell into this trap, and gave so much to my family that I lost my sense of identity for a time. Now, I have to set boundaries on my empathy. I have to make sure I take into account my own needs first, then I have what I need to help others. Thanks for the food for thought!

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 23 months ago

      I thoroughly enjoy your sermons. They are thought-provoking, as I find most greqt sermons to be. And I particularly lije your approach to them. Very down to Earth and humanizing.

      I agree with what you say about empathy. I do not mind people empathizing with me some. We alk need it from others. But qhen another allows it to take over, relationships are destroyed.

      And I like your comment about it not mattering how something is said, only how it is received.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 23 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I couldn't follow your line of reasoning, but I liked your conclusion. The flaw was in my focus, not in your argument, anecdotes, citations or presentation. I'm sleepy and about ready for my after lunch nap.

      I was in an interesting class a few years ago called Building Your Own Theology. The text is online in PDF.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 23 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Another masterpiece, at least in my opinion.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

      We were taught in nurses training to have empathy not sympathy, which was difficult for me. The reasoning behind that was we would get bogged down because we had many patients to care for and we couldn't go around crying all the time. I like your sermon. You got your point across without yelling. I like that!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 23 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      A great Sermon, as always, with deep meaning.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you just did what so many preachers seem to lack. I've heard the "orators" you try to wow the congregation with flowery phrases, their voices trembling with emotion. Obviously, it's all about "them." You have done the opposite my friend, and that is what makes these Sunday Sermons to precious, so relevant--you turned it around and made it "us", not you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill, sometimes I think my life is a parable. And I can handle that a lot better than a quote. You always bring something special to the table my friend and I appreciate that very much.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you John, you are very witty this day and I am glad I offered something up that you enjoyed. Thank you for letting me know.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We have to be careful to help the sick and yet not get infected. Sometimes I may be right but sometimes I may be wrong. So I do better treating most everybody the same. Thank you Jo for reading and your ever present support.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm a parable kind of guy...story-telling at its best, survived the hands of time, great messages....an early form of creative writing with a message....great stuff, my friend.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I am me and I am good..and so are the Sunday sermons Eric. Better than most church sermons I have attended. I know a couple of preachers who seemed to have the miraculous knack of always giving a relevant message I needed to hear, many fall short. You always hit the Mark...or is theat John, Matthew, Luke :)

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 23 months ago

      Hello Brother Eric,

      You have really climbed the mountain of expression of amazing grace here with this sermon. I always appreciate you and your messages.

      On a kind of a funny note, " 2 Corinthians walk into a bar". :-)

      Sorry, just heard this joke and I had to share. Even those who spew they're brand of hate deserve our empathy too. I would just rather do it from a safe distance! Blessings always... shared +++++