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Preach!

This week I heard three sermons from three different people who stopped for a blessing. I don’t think any of them knew they were preaching, but that’s what it was. One man spoke about serving as a sponsor in his 12 step program and all the ways he’s found joy and meaning in this self-giving role. Another talked about his yearly cancer screening to make sure he’s still in remission. While screening time stirs up some anxiety, it also stirs up gratitude and gives him an opportunity to intentionally put his hope and trust in God.

Finally, a woman told me she’d been praying and fasting for two days straight for her son to stop smoking weed, and it had worked. God took the desire for marijuana away from him, gave him clarity, and removed the fog of depression. She had walked around the block three times while I was talking to other people, waiting to share her amazing news and testimony about the power of prayer.

Helping others, thanking and trusting God, being persistent in prayer – I could listen to these spiritual stories all day long. They are rich with theological truths and affirmation of God’s goodness. They are part of the way we “encourage one another and build each other up." (1 Thess. 5:11).

I recently heard a linguist and faith commentator give a talk about the death of sacred speech in the United States, including our use of religious vocabulary and engagement in spiritual conversations.

It’s a scary concept, frankly, but one I see defied on a regular basis in this ministry. I don’t deny the overall decline in sacred speech, and I understand the reasons for the trend. Yet I take heart in the mini-sermons I hear from strangers who want to tell me about their faith.

There’s something to be said for simply being or creating a safe space that encourages such spiritual expression. Care to try it? Short of standing outside with a sign about blessings, maybe you can ask a Christian friend where they’ve experienced God’s grace lately. Or casually mention something you saw or read that was spiritually nourishing, and then invite them to do the same. Perhaps you'll hear a sermon from them. Or better yet, preach one yourself.