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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.

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