Tag Archives: preaching

The Show Must Go On

One of the Preacher’s nightmares is to have a dodgy stomach on a Sunday morning, prior to conducting Morning Worship (tip: never have a takeaway curry the night before)

One is sitting enthroned with less than an hour to go and wondering what to do.  It has happened a couple of times – but, mercifully, I’ve had Session Clerks who could take bits of the service, while I dashed off to the church loo.

Worse – an occasion when I had to drive some distance on a particular Sunday morning to preach for a vacant Charge in the Interim-Moderator’s Church.  We set off in good time, but the snow got heavier and heavier until the road was eventually blocked.  This was in the days before mobile (cell) phones – so I had to walk through the snow-drift to a public phone box to let the Minister know that I couldn’t make it.  Poor guy – this was  his first church and so he didn’t have any “oldies” from elsewhere to fall back upon.  I hope the Holy Spirit came to his rescue!  (I later revisited – and got the post)

While a hospital chaplain, I was paged some years ago by the company which now owns the Crichton Memorial Church in Dumfries.  It would be about three in the afternoon and the Minister who was supposed to conduct the marriage ceremony (scheduled to start then) at the Church hadn’t turned up.

Could I help out?

As I wore an open-neck shirt (for hygiene reasons) and chinos at work – I said that I would have to return home to get changed into something more appropriate for a wedding – and that it would take me half an hour.  The poor bride was in tears (her mum was in tears and – later – the wedding cake was in tiers!) but after what I hoped was a reassuring chat, we got started.

It transpired that the missing Minister (who didn’t believe in rehearsals) had assumed that the Wedding was on the Saturday.  The groom and the family were not best pleased – and it even made the local rag.

On auto-pilot:  my beloved father had osophegal  cancer and died in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow in the early evening of Saturday, 21st February 1976.  After spending some time at the Hospital, I took my mother back to the family home and spent some time with her and my Father’s brother and sister who were staying with her.

About ten o’clock, I drove the thirty-odd miles to where my Church was; had a quick bite to eat, and spent the next three hours writing my sermon.

I took the Sunday service at 11 o’clock that morning, before driving back to Bearsden immediately afterwards.  And I haven’t a clue what I preached about that day.

and here’s a repost on the same subject:

Christmas Eve 1974
The Meenister’s Log

Murder in the Cathedral – well, getting duffed up on the steps of the kirk……..

I went to my first charge in June 1974 – a pleasantly quiet village where most of the excitement at Christmastide was going to look at the lights (green, amber, red, amber, green – hell , this was confusing – but exhilarating)

Anyhow, it was Christmas Eve and my first watch night service as a newly fledged meenister.

I got to the church just as the pub across the road was scaling out (whiff of the barmaid’s apron £1; sook of the spittoon £1.25; half-pint of dregs only £1.30. – I made that up)

Mind you, a few weeks before draped from the window of one of the flats above was a bed sheet with the message: “Happy 27th birthday, Granny”

OK – to our tale of woe: some of the punters from that pub decided that it would be a good idea to rough up our church officer who had asthma.

I managed to get those youths out of the building, but they started to smash up some of the diamond-shaped stained-glass windows.

So this daft wee meenister followed them outside to remonstrate; they then got stuck into me and hit on the head with an object (at that point, unknown)

The Polis arrived very quickly, and, even though they knew who the miscreants were, were annoyed when I wouldn’t make a statement.

Our Session Clerk, the saintly Dr Tom Burnett (RIP) arrived at the same time as my heavily pregnant wife. Gossip started about a Christmas baby – Matthew was actually born at the beginning of February – but he was actually putting stitches in my head (without anesthetic!)

Then right on time, I stood in the pulpit and preached about peace and goodwill toward all men.

The next day – Christmas morning – I had a 10.30 service – and, before we stated, Davie the Beadle, went to the church safe, and dialed in the code (6-6-6) opened the door and produced a dented can of Tennant’s lager (for my older friends, these were the heavier metal tins with the ‘Lovelies’ depicted thereon) – the one that had caused me to have three stitches put in my head.

I later enjoyed that can of beer – because it was ………….. Thirst after righteousness!

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Six feet above contradiction

There is no denying that some ministers are extremely tedious, and though the congregation can do nothing to mend matters, sometimes a man arises with a courage above his peers.

The sermon was on the Books of the Bible, and for fifty minutes the minister expounded his views, first on one book, and then on another until the congregation began to show signs of fatigue. At last, just as he seemed about to close he began afresh. “We have examined the five great books of Moses; we have sympathised with the patient Job; we have revelled in the psalms of David; we have braved the lions in their den with Daniel; we have been cheered with Isaiah’s ‘rapt seraphic fire’; what shall we now do with Jeremiah ”

“Jeremiah can have my seat,” replied old John the beadle, “I’m awa’ hame.”


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August 19, 2013 · 21:14



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August 4, 2013 · 09:24

Clergy at a Preaching Festival

Clergy at a Preaching Festival

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May 14, 2013 · 16:31

Getting the Message

A church vacancy committee undertook a long and diligent search for a new minister – and at last settled on one.

On the first Sunday the new minister went into the pulpit and delivered an amazing sermon. Everyone was deeply moved – they laughed, they cried, they were filled with awe. On the way out at the end of the service they thanked the minister profusely for his wonderful sermon, and congratulated each other on the brilliant choice they had made when they selected the new minister.

On the second Sunday, the new minister went up into the pulpit and delivered exactly the same sermon has he had the week before. Again people were deeply moved – but some scratched their heads and wondered what was going on. But, they gave the new minister the benefit of the doubt – perhaps he had just picked up the wrong notes on the way to church that morning – and they didn’t say too much.

On the third Sunday, the minister again gave exactly the same sermon as he had on the first and second Sundays. This time there was widespread consternation. The elders immediately called a meeting with the minister and asked him what was going on.

They said, “The sermon you preached today is a really great sermon – and we all are deeply impressed by your ability – but you’ve delivered it three times now. Don’t you know any other sermons?’

“Oh, yes!, replied the new minister, “I have loads of them – and they are all just as good as the one you just heard.”

“Well then,” replied the elders, “Why don’t you preach one of them next week.”

 “I’m not going to do that”, the minister replied, “until all of you have started following the message of the first one.” 

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This minister just had all of his remaining teeth pulled and new dentures were being made. The first Sunday, he only preached 10 minutes.The second Sunday, he preached only 20 minutes.But, on the third Sunday, he preached 1 hour 25 minutes.When asked about this by some of the congregation, he responded this way.

The first Sunday, my gums were so sore it hurt to talk.

The second Sunday, my dentures were hurting a lot.

The third Sunday, I accidentally grabbed my wife’s dentures… and I couldn’t stop talking!


I’m reminded of what an old elder said to me about my predecessor in a certain Charge – “for the evening service, he preached the same sermon as in the morning, but he took out his teeth & it sounded quite different!”

In my case, it’s    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YJnVN6wdvI

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