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Grab. Grab. And grab some more. Last time I talked about the “grab” of first sentences in short stories. Today, it’s about the “grab” in first sentences of sermons. I’m saving a collection of both for when I get to “the home” someday. Following my mother’s example, I want a collection of reading material ready.

So, along with their titles, here are a few first sentences of sermons I’ve heard at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago:

Waking Up: “With the recent death of Nelson Mandela, there has been much reflection on what a giant figure in history he was, modeling reconciliation and heroic leadership, not only of south Africa but the world.”1

From Wonder to Wisdom: “As different as they are from each other, the book of Job and the book of Proverbs share a certain family resemblance, so much so that biblical scholars have grounded them together, along with Ecclesiastes, into the category of wisdom literature.”2

Sermon: “Every preacher has texts they don’t look forward to talking about.”3

Fellowship: “I was fortunate to have a wise preaching mentor when I was starting out in this task of preparation for ministry back in Glasgow, and he often had good works of advice that were useful to a young, budding preacher.”4

Pentecost Hyperconnectivity: “Fire, wind, people babbling in different tongues, confusion, chaos, the Spirit of God on the loose—it makes an orderly Presbyterian like me very nervous.”5

For me, each title had enough “grab” to grab my curiosity and each first sentence enough “grab” to stay sitting in my pew. What about you?

Sometimes we just need to stop. To think. About the wonder of words. About the wonder of how writers—and talkers, so that means all of us—put words together.

Words are marvelous things.


1 Victoria Curtiss, 12/15/13.

2 Joyce Shin, 11/24/13

3 Adam Fronczyk, 2/10/13

4 Calum I. MacLeod, 10/7/12

5 John Buchanan, 6/12/11