Sermons: Sometimes the Shortest Are the Best

My work schedule has changed.  As of last week, Tom and I no longer have to work on Sundays!  Hooray!  We can go to church again!  So, last Sunday we headed for the United Church of Kanab-Fredonia, which we visited in May.  We found the congregation just as friendly and welcoming as on our previous visit.  No pianist – we sang acapella – and the pastor was on vacation.  The guest preacher was a member of the congregation, Iris Coover, and it was one of the shortest sermons I’ve ever heard.  In fact, the sermon was shorter than the joys and concerns of the 12 faithful disciples in the congregation.

Pastor Coover talked about Jesus being the bread of life.  She detailed lots of places in the Bible that talk about bread.  She also included metaphors that we use today that have bread in them.  I’m not sure what the point of the sermon was, because I got stuck on one thing that she said.  Pastor Coover mentioned that the Samaritan woman went to the well alone because she didn’t have anyone to go with her.

In thinking about this point I reread the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4.  It doesn’t say that no one went with the Samaritan woman but the inference is definitely that she and Jesus met one-on-one without anyone else around.  They certainly talked about some very personal things that you might not mention if you had a group of friends present.

In reading this story again, one line really jumped out at me.  John 4:39:  “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  The Samaritan woman didn’t have a long sermon or one that seems profound to us, but many people believed because of the one sentence she shared.

It made me think of Jonah’s sermon to Ninevah.  Jonah walked into Ninevah (after trying to run away) and said “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  It has to be one of the shortest sermons on record, yet thousands of people believed what he said and repented.  The city of Ninevah was saved because of this one sentence.

How often have you heard a sermon that was only one sentence?  Not too many preachers are bold enough to try that.  But sometimes the best sermons, the most memorable sermons, are also the shortest.  Or just one thought from a sermon sticks with us and makes us evaluate our lives, repent, and walk in faith.  Perhaps the sermons you remember most aren’t the ones that were preached, but the ones that were lived.  When we see the gospel lived out, it can make a powerful and memorable impression.

Are there any sermons you particularly remember?  Is there something that someone said, or did, that changed your life?  Sometimes the sermons we remember best are the ones with the fewest words.