Ponderings with Doug

dougthumbDo you know what it means when a preacher looks at his watch while preaching? It means absolutely nothing. Preachers are teasing you when they make a dramatic production of removing their watch and placing it on the pulpit before the sermon. They could be showing off their bling or showing how poor they are. The watch and the benediction are not connected. Even if the preacher actually looked, it won’t help. While preaching you lose the ability to process the meaning of time.

Jokes regarding long-winded-tiring-shrill preachers are legion. A Methodist preacher told his congregation the same thing Henry VIII told his wives, “I won’t keep you long.” He then preached so long that he violated the first law of homiletical dynamics. That law states, “The mind can only absorb what the backside can endure.” Being rump-sprung is a real medical condition resulting from belonging to a church with a long-winded preacher.

The two creative catalysts for my sermons are preaching the grace of Jesus clearly and beating the Baptists to the restaurants on Sunday. This Sunday we didn’t make it, we went into overtime because of all the people joining the church. Overtime in the Methodist church is a sign of revival! I should confess that we don’t sing fifteen verses of “Just As I Am” with every head bowed every eye closed. You must be quick in the Methodist church responding to the altar call. We don’t repeat verses, bridges or choruses. In our church we want you to come on down like you have been called as a contestant on the Price is Right; quickly!

We hold three services on Sunday morning, in case you are looking. There are signs the first service is nearing its starting time. The hall in front of the office is less crowded. The narthex outside of the sanctuary grows quiet. The choir walks past the office in preparation for the beginning of the service. When these signals occur I check the wall clock to verify the time is near. I’m like the starter at a track meet; I give the secret signal to the organist to start the Prelude.

Last Sunday, I looked at the wall clock and thought, “I wonder why everyone is early.” The service starts at 8:45 and my wall clock read 8:30. I continued my last minute fiddling with the sermon. I fiddle before the service starts and really work hard on the sermon during the offering. The silence in the narthex, the absence of traffic in the hallway and the murmuring from the sanctuary gave me pause. Maybe the wall clock was wrong. I looked at my watch. The service was about to begin without me!

Funny thing about those big wall clocks when the minute hand gets loose the clock can’t keep time. The clock on the wall is reading half past the hour right now because the minute hand is loose. Gravity keeps it pointing downward.

I wrote that last paragraph and wondered how many people reading this don’t know how to tell time with an old fashioned watch. Telling time, dialing a phone and cursive writing have gone into the basket of cute obsolete analog behaviors. If you are a digital reader, the wall clock points at the six all the time.

I recommend Jesus time.

Jesus lived mindfully. Living mindfully is living fully in the present moment. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Right now my body is participating in the production of this article. Eyes are reading the screen checking for mistakes, fingers are typing and the brain is directing the whole production. But hiding in my mind are the nagging remains of Sunday and the worries about tomorrow. I am not mindfully present in this moment. I’m wondering if my moment has room to acknowledge Jesus’ presence.

We try to measure time, save time, keep time, and manage time. We worry about being early or late and hope to be on time. Time marches on, but it can also stand still. How are you telling time? How are you living your time? In your life, has your minute hand become loose and it is later than you think?

The broken wall clock can be replaced time can’t. Jesus told His friends that right now is the only moment to live, live it abundantly.

One thought on “Ponderings with Doug

  1. We had a pastor like that in a church I belonged to years ago. Took off his wrist watch and laid it on the pulpit as if he was really going to look at it at some point. He never did. However, we were lucky. Had a head Deacon who sat on the front row and whose throat would fill with phlegm just before noon and had to constantly clear his throat while looking at HIS watch until he finally got the pastor’s attention. The Invitation would begin very quickly after that.

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