A Stirring Sermon from Preacher Jesus

Here’s a sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. I try to channel Jesus’ own spirit of stirring up a congregation to think differently as is present to us in Luke’s Gospel, the fourth chapter. Join me in seeing the congregation’s response to Preacher Jesus. Enjoy!

In Memory of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

When the news of Bishop Tutu’s death reached me, my mind went back to 1986 when Bishop Tutu honored me and Duke Chapel by a visit. The regional TV was eager to broadcast. Trouble was, Bishop Tutu was delayed in Atlanta while meeting with Coretta Scott King and so we started the service that night, and the TV broadcast, with no Bishop Tutu. I took the congregation through the entire service as planned and, when we got to the place of the sermon, we had the Chapel’s first “hymn sing.” I was in agony. Then, just as we were singing, “When through firey trials I cause thee to go,” the doors of the chapel burst open and my friend Lew Waddel of Duke Public Safety led the bishop through down the Chapel aisle as the congregation went wild (at 37:00 on the video).

I greeted the bishop with, “Good to see you. Preach as long as you like but the TV leaves us in fifteen minutes.” Bishop Tutu ended a thrilling sermon right as TV coverage ended. 

“I had a great time,” he said to me after the service.

“Me too,” I said. Though I never wanted to lead a hymn sing on live TV ever again.


The Conversationalist God

I recently shared this article with Ministry Matters where I talk about the language of the Christian faith.

“The truth about God comes our way through God’s refusal to give up on divine/human colloquy and abandon us to soliloquy. For good reason is Jesus ‘The Word.’ Whoever said, ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one,’ or ‘Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words,’ it wasn’t Jesus.”


Adult Forum with the Congregation at Duke University Chapel

I’m glad to be joining the Duke Chapel’s congregation for a conversation about my latest book, God Turned Toward Us. If you’d like to join the online crowd, you can use the link below to be a part of the conversation at 9:45am EST. See you there!


“Shaking the Gates of Hell” by John Archibald

Some of you may have already seen my review of John Archibald’s Shaking the Gates of Hell in The Christian Century. He’s also joined my good friend Jason Micheli on the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast to talk about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

“Few of us preachers—particularly those in the Southeast, and especially those who are Methodists—will be able to evade this book. In his scathing, often sarcastic criticism of our church and its clergy, there is a sense in which John may have a higher theology of preaching than we do, as well as a deeper love for the church.” (from my review)

I hope you’ll dare to read this confronting account of Southern Christianity, and once you do, I trust it won’t leave your ministry unaffected.