The Burial of Dad’s Sermon Notes

Cleaning out my office after 26 years of ministry in the same small town congregation, I stumbled across my father’s sermon notes.

Since his death in 1991, I’ve kept several boxes of his hand-scrawled outlines enshrined in a filing cabinet, to honor his memory, maintaining a sacred bond with my heritage. But leafing through these mementos of glory thundered from the pulpit, I finally admitted the truth to myself.  There was no life in them.

For Dad, notes did not contain the life.  It was in the delivery.  The notes weren’t the sermon.  Rather, they were like spent bullet shell casings, or fireworks that had already been shot.  They were just scraps of words without significance.

The day I threw my father’s sermons in the dumpster, it felt somewhat like a second burial. . . with hope of resurrection.

3 thoughts on “The Burial of Dad’s Sermon Notes”

  1. Oh Mark,
    I hope you have kept copies of your sermon notes, I have many of your sermons in my filing cabinet. They are mostly about love, kindness, gentleness, goodness, sincerity, warmth, reaching out to others, sharing faith, Jesus….
    I am sure your father’s congregation feels the same way. I cherish the words that brought me to my knees, and then helped to raise me up again.
    I too have many of my father’s notes on life, his exploits and his studies. I love them. Someday, someone will wonder why I kept them.

  2. I feel for you. I did the same with Nick’s written sermons. Nick’s sermons were also all about the delivery. And he did so with heart, conviction, grace, and truth. I heard almost all of them, and I will live with those memories of another human who happened to be my husband, who happened to be an Episcopal priest, share God’s word through personal stories and human experience. It was one of his true gifts.

  3. Did Ryan or Luke ever express wanting them?? That would have been a beautiful legacy. Maybe one that caught their attention. Or maybe some if your sermons??

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