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"Sundays come around with alarming regularity."

The Rev. Gary Forbes - friend, mentor, and sometimes theological combatant - dropped this little gem when he was teaching a beginning preaching class back in the summer of 1993. I was serving my very first church, Mt. Gilboa United Methodist Church in western Indiana, at that time. I remember being very wary of the discipline I was undertaking and was wondering how in the world I would be able to preach every Sunday, be prepared, and be engaging.

Now, 14 years later, preaching is almost as natural as breathing for me. It's my craft and art and I love it. But I still harken back to that first intensive workshop and remember basic principles he taught. He told us to pay careful attention to everything around us because everything is grist for the mill. You can be working on sermons whatever you are doing, whether you are at the movies or out on the golf course or in the grocery store.

I used to dread Sundays because I feared my inadequacy as a preacher and holy man. Now I realize that it isn't about my holiness at all, it's about my honesty, and I can be honest even when I don't feel particularly holy, which, truth be told, is pretty often. Making weekly reports to a group on my spiritual observations has been good for my soul. It's made me accountable and less likely to bluff my way vaguely through my spiritual journey.

Gary also said, "The difference between AA and worship is that when people come to AA the bullshit ends. When people come to worship the bullshit begins."

Thanks to Gary's tutelage, and others, I have brought for myself some honesty and integrity to the pulpit. Even when it is the integrity to say, "I have no idea."

40 for 40, #3


I was in classes taught by Gary back in the late 70s and still benifit from his insight and wisdom even though I have not seen him in 30 years! I am in the Florida Conference.

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