The Commons

A preaching blog with ideas and for interactive story sermon writing and image exegesis by Len Sweet.

Here, you can comment on any post to discuss its meaning and share your thoughts.

Two Farmers

A conversation between two farmers went like this: The first farmer said to the second farmer, “If you had two fields, wouldn’t you be willing to share one of them?” “Of course!” If you had two houses, you wouldn’t live in both, so you’d be happy to share the other,…

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The Masterpiece –a Christmas Story

A Christmas Eve/Day story   THE MASTERPIECE                 Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting.  Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection.  Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh,…

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Christmas is not all sweetness

When you preach the Christmas story, never forget this: The Christmas story is not all candles, candy-canes and chocolate-bark. It is a story filled with scandal, betrayal, treachery, filth and murder. In Auschwitz, a young girl terrified of touching dead bodies, is ordered to pick one up. Her sister slips…

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Connection and Pastoral Identity

Friends:   Connection is the newold content. Life (and ministry) is all about four connections—our connection to God, to ourselves, to each other, and to creation.   Recently, one of my doctoral students (who shall go by the name of “Paul”) asked one of my most esteemed connections about recent…

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The Power of Metaphor

In my lecture yesterday on the future of preaching, I briefly touched on how narraphoric preaching differs from the narrative preaching of the 70s and 80s associated with Fred Craddock, Eugene Lowry, Charles Rice and others. I noted the priority of metaphor, and of always looking for the root metaphor.…

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Where’s the Grace?

To one degree or another, in six weeks you will need to celebrate or at least acknowledge the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We will have some resources for you to use as we approach the date. But here is a Martin Luther story that sets the stage for…

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Trust the Spirit

Wesley was an Oxford don, classically educated and an enlightenment aristocrat. But he was acutely aware of the democracy of the Spirit, and sought never to lose the common touch. In fact, early Methodist meetings were often led by lay preachers with very limited education. On one occasion, such a…

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Does your church…?

John Wesley said that we should “plunder the Egyptians.” Are you ready for some plundering? 1) Make fun of palm-reading, but at least they’re holding hands. Is your church? 2) Make fun of astrology, but at least they’re looking upward and remembering birthdays. Is your church? 3) Make fun of…

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Robert E. Lee’s Confession

Social media makes it easy for rhetorical displays of outrage. To be sure, bigotry and violence deserve our outrage, but require more than huffy-puffy outrage if we are to heal the disease and drain the poison. Our outrage must not just lead to outbursts but outcomes of holiness and healing.…

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Context is Everything

A new play “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was scheduled to debut on Broadway in 1962. In its pre-Broadway tour, it was a disaster. Even though it had the best people behind it (e.g. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, George Abbott was the…

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