From B.C. to 11 A.M.

It took a novel by John Steinbeck for me to admit my ineptness at preaching Old Testament narratives.

In a scene from East of Eden, the banter around a kitchen table turns to the Cain-and-Abel story. A pig-tailed Chinese cook says, "No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us."

I thought about the sermon I preached the previous Sunday from 1 Samuel 7, the first I had preached from a narrative book in the Old Testament. Did people leave with a sense that the story was about them?

I had to admit they probably didn't. A lady approached me after the service and asked for point number three. "Uh, point number three," I said, "was 'The Resulting Prosperity of God's People.' "

I had preached a sermon full of historical-cultural data in an analytical outline. But that did no justice to the purpose of Bible stories: to lure people into real-life dramas where they run smack into God's assessment of their lives.

Preaching from an Old Testament ...

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