"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

20 December 2015


Source: wisegeek.com
A seemingly long time ago, in what feels like a past life, I lived in New York City. I didn't have a church home there, because my days started before the sun dawned and ended well into the night. It was a stretch for me to attend a church service on Sunday mornings, and I didn't have the time or emotional energy to invest in finding or building relationships.

I did, however, have the privilege of visiting some pretty well-known churches, like Redeemer Presbyterian (where, unfortunately, someone stole my favorite brown jacket at the time).

A very large, prominent church in Brooklyn was another one, and yes, their choir IS incredible in person.

This post stems from my second visit to the latter of those two churches.

I remember absolutely nothing from the sermon except this, and that is why it holds any significance.

The pastor was preaching on 2 Timothy 2:1. 

"If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the master to use you for every good work." 

To illustrate this point, he told this story: "When you wash dishes, and you only soap up the outside, the dish is still dirty, because you didn't get any of the grime on the inside." So far, so good, right? Then he continued, "But if you scrub the inside, the outside will be clean, too."

Wait, what? 

And I thought, "There is a man who never washes dishes."

Ever since then, every time I wash dishes by hand, I have thought about that pastor and his words. And truly, it makes my least favorite household chore just a tiny bit more enjoyable. 

But here's the true point to all this: a bad sermon illustration has the potential to be just as memorable as a good one. My high school choir director once told us to never sing words of which we did not know the meaning (we were singing a song in Latin, I believe, for our Christmas concert that year). Countless writing teachers have admonished their students to not write about things of which they know nothing. 

The same should be said of pastors. Preach not on that which you have no knowledge. If you're not sure, then ask, because you never know what you'll be remembered for. 

I wonder if it would have given that pastor pause if he knew that someday, nearly a decade later, a woman in Texas would be remembering him for how he didn't know how to do dishes properly.