O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
—Psalm 63:1 (NRSV)
MATT LANEY | I once heard the renowned preacher, Rev. Gardner Taylor, preach about preaching to a congregation of preachers at Riverside Church. He said, “Don’t try to be a great preacher. Try instead to preach a great gospel.”
He said preaching fails when it amounts to giving “thoughts for the day,” something to mull over during brunch instead of inspiring personal and social transformation, which is the aim of the gospel. So much of preaching, he warned, is like talking about medicine to a sick person.
With the zeal of the converted, I took that nugget back to my church and preached against feckless, “heady” preaching. I concluded, “If all I’ve done in a sermon is given you some- thing to think about, I have failed!”
After the service, someone came up to me and said, “Well pastor, you really gave us some- thing to think about today.”
The psalmist said it better: a person who “thirsts” and “faints” for God is like a dry, parched land seeking life-giving water. We would never say to a dehydrated person, “What are your beliefs about water?” That would not only be useless, but cruel.
Jesus was living water for parched people. If he only talked about love, it wouldn’t have mattered much. Instead, he lived love, pouring it out until cups overflowed.
PRAYER Let me be the sermon people need today.

About the Writer:
MATT LANEY is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series for young readers.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.