I shall never forget Summer 1984 when I was invited with my family to spend a month in Toronto. Why unforgettable? Because it was on the basis of my preaching a month of Sundays (morning and evening) that we were given fares, accommodation and wonderful hospitality. On the basis of preaching in the Summer! Just when many churches close down as congregations relax and take holidays (together with their preachers) this church - Yorkminster Baptist Church - planned its preaching with immense care. It was humbling and stretching...especially since the famous resident preacher Dr. John Gladstone was present and spent time with me!
I recognize that 'preaching centres' can be created and sustained by a variety of motives - which perhaps deserve a separate posting. But when a church really cares about the ministry of preaching, with anticipation and eager response, I am sure it encourages the best prayerful preparation. Certainly, I have worked hard in preparing the six sermons I have to deliver this coming month and (as will be absolutely no surprise) I am really looking forward to being in this church again where preaching has such a high priority.
However, I also need to say that my vulnerability levels remain high - this is a privilege that is undeserved and nothing good will happen unless God is at work. One of my sermons is based on John 15: 1-17...'apart from me you can do nothing' (verse 5). That's a vital warning!
You may not hear much from me during the next few days but if you can make a little space in your prayers for me I would be grateful.