THE GREATEST SERMON I EVER HEARD
by Mariane Holbrook
It lasted only twenty minutes. Thatís all. Only twenty minutes.
But the greatest sermon I ever heard was delivered in a small North Carolina church at the foot of the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway.
The old man was bent over as he walked to the pulpit in the small white frame church. He looked frail. He looked tired. In fact, I wondered if this sickly, elderly man would even have the strength to deliver a message at all.
When he began to speak, my earlier fears were confirmed. I strained to hear him. He read the scripture in a voice barely above a whisper.
He lifted his head and announced quietly, ďToday I want to talk about heaven. Iím homesick for heaven.Ē
He began by recounting what his impressions of heaven were when he was a young boy in Sunday School: streets of gold, choirs of angels, endless days with no nights, and plenty of cool creeks stocked with an over-abundance of mountain trout.
Then he walked to the side of the pulpit and without benefit of notes began to speak from his heart. He told us of the glory that awaits all of Godís children when they walk through heavenís gates.
He lifted his bony arms heavenward and talked about God the Father who wanted nothing so much as for His created children to love Him in return.
He wept as he talked about God the Son whose obedience on the cross made it possible for the redeemed to enjoy the benefits of heaven for all eternity.
He talked about God the Holy Spirit and his work as comforter and guide to those who are born again and awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ
The old preacher, his face by now glowing with the sunís rays filtering through the old church windows, described heaven as he thought it would be, painting it with gentle brush strokes and pastel colors that left us speechless, that left us longing, that left us weeping.
No one stirred. Not a sound could be heard in the church except the strained voice of this frail man of God who made heaven real and unforgettable and, joy of joys, obtainable.
And then it was over. Without music, without announcements, without anything that would distract us from what we had just heard, he quietly said, ďMay the blessings of God be upon you dear ones. Amen.Ē
He left the platform and slowly made his way to the door. But no one moved. For twenty indescribable minutes we had had the drapes of heaven parted just enough to give us a glimpse and to yearn, almost beg for more.
And all this from an old country preacher, who could barely walk, whose voice was just above a whisper, but who was covered from head to toe with the sweet, quiet anointing of his holy God.
Mariane Holbrook is a retired teacher, an author of two books, a musician and artist.
She lives with her husband on coastal North Carolina. She maintains a personal website
www.marianholbrook.com and welcomes your Emails at Mariane777@bellsouth.com.
Indeed & amen! A wonderful story, but I'm sure you don't write to entertain, but to provoke us to think, to consider and to perhaps remember to remember. What did this remind me of? That although the sound of wind and waves could have drowned out His words, Jesus spoke on the shores of Galilee without the benefit? of a sound system. A reminder that His words are powerful and although we lament our lack of eloqution; a whisper will do. Jesus never spoke above a third grade reading level and I could see in your story that the old preacher and Him had a thing or two in common.