- Pasting Together Feathers Hoping for a Duck
Pasting together feathers hoping for a duck. Such a great line. I heard it on NPR this morning. (You’ve heard the joke, “That’s not just my opinion, I heard it on NPR.”)
Well, I’m writing a talk on John 1:1-18. Couldn’t have a better passage right? But there is so much great stuff written on that passage. I could just read commentaries and books on The Gospel of John all week. I find that when the research is exciting, my sermon or talk can suffer. After reading a passage over 10 or 20 times in several translations I sometimes find myself skipping the hard work of outlining the passage, asking myself what questions I have about it, and finding the purpose of the passage. I often like to move right into reading the commentaries.
If the commentaries are good I get excited about the writer’s ideas. If they are long and tedious I get lost in the minutia. Either way, if I haven’t done preliminary work on my own I find myself writing my sermon or talk on the commentary and not on the scriptures. I will then be “pasting together feathers hoping for a duck.” The feathers are so beautiful and I may even make something that looks and sounds like a duck if I’m very skillful, but there won’t be any meat inside.
When I get a talk done and I can’t really remember what the life changing point that I wanted to make was, then I KNOW I’ve been pasting facts and stories together hoping for a transformational message but all I have is a duck. If I make great power points I may get away with being entertaining but I won’t cause anyone to get on their knees and pray about it.
Well, it’s Saturday afternoon and I speak on Monday night so I better get going and find the life inside that duck.