A Case for Brevity

Sunday, Sept. 20                                                        A Case for Brevity

I have a son-in-law that would never be labeled a “motormouth.”  He’s laid back, rarely says anything.  I suspect his brain is working OK, but he doesn’t share much.  If he is asked a question, he keeps his answer short, like “no” or “yes.”  He’s a rare bird.  Most of us talk too much.  I’ve been accused of that, and I guess there’s some truth in it.  I generally catch on when a person looks at his watch or begins to walk away from me before I finish my story.  Some preachers have this problem.  In my 87 years I’ve been in a lot of churches and have heard a lot of sermons.  I won’t try to give you statistics or examples; let’s just say that there is room for improvement.  Some preachers have big egos and feel that they have so much to offer that there just isn’t enough time to share all they know.  Some no doubt feel that they have to use up all the time allotted for the sermon—whether 45 minutes or an hour—and it’s perfectly OK to go beyond the allotted time by 20 minutes or so.  Some don’t seem to know when they’ve come to the end.  After coming to two or three good stopping places, they have an “add on,” and then another and another.  Now, I’ve used quite a few words just to introduce the subject of the day—BREVITY!  A few years ago Elizabeth and I visited the Presbyterian Church in Dallas.  We were amazed at the pastor’s sermon.  It was superb, Biblical, doctrinally correct, and pertinent.  It was also just 20 minutes long.  It was obviously standard procedure for him.  Impressive!  You might remember Abraham Lincoln’s answer to the question about how long it takes to prepare a speech.  It goes something like this:  “If you want a half hour speech, it would take ten hours; if you want a one hour speech, about two hours; if you want a two hour speech, I’m ready right now.”  You might also remember the Gettysburg address.  The Brits have it inscribed on a plaque in the center of London, heralding it as the best writing in the English language.   (Where do they place Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton?)  Anyway, I’ve taken too long to tell you all this, so I’ll quit.  No “add ons.”

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