So the story goes like this.
The new, radical bishop in a South American city is due to preach his first sermon in the cathedral.
At the signal, he rises, robed in splendour, and solemnly ascends the staircase to the lectern.
He fixes the congregation in his eye. In silence he gathers everyone’s attention into one hank. He says: ‘Love one another!’
He continues to gaze at his flock for a minute more. Then he steps down and returns to his seat.
Well, you can imagine the reaction. What chutzpah! What a fresh approach! What a marvellous preacher!
The next week the cathedral is packed full of people waiting to hear his next rhetorical trick. When the Bishop is due to preach, he walks up the steps, pauses, stares out at the gathered people with a sparkle in his eye and says, ‘Love one another!’
This happens for two more weeks before the diocesan leaders gather uncomfortably to confront the Bishop. Once was a very clever idea. Twice got the town talking. But surely he sees the need to move on and actually preach a full sermon next Sunday?
The Bishop looks around at the delegation and says, ‘I’ll preach the next message when we’ve mastered this one.’
If anyone knows the origin of this story, please let me know. I only know it in this apocryphal and embroidered version.
What do you think of this as a preaching strategy? I bet the Bishop got a lot of other stuff done in his week…