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Preachers and listeners perform a dance of the spirit, and sometimes Someone Else cuts in.

"I thought you might like this book," Ed said and quickly disappeared.

Later I opened the book and found his inscription thanking me for a series of sermons.

"You gave me a fresh perspective on some enduring questions. My faith has been renewed," he wrote. "Perhaps I can, in some way, reciprocate with this book."

We had met only briefly-he, a face in the audience, and I, a guest preacher, blindly shooting words at the hidden needs of strangers who sat in the pews.

Miraculously, something hit a bull's eye. Some thought struck home in Ed, and faith was revived.

As I mulled over the inscription, my thoughts went from self-satisfaction and accomplishment to surprise and curiosity. What did I say that touched Ed? I had no clue.

* * *

Preaching is an odd enterprise.

Some preachers are wordsmiths, crafters of fine art. Others are silver-tongued orators who dazzle listeners with their dexterity in juggling language and moods and gestures. Some are scholars who come across as possessing more knowledge ...

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From Issue:Winter 1993: Conflict
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