Thursday, October 20, 2011

Preaching Conference - Haddon's 80th.

Before I forget I must comment about the final evening of the preaching conference. Haddon Robinson celebrated his eightieth birthday (there was a cake later) by preaching from Judges 11. It is the story of Jepthah whose vow to God involved sacrificing his daughter. Few of us would willingly preach on this hard story. With extraordinary preaching skill he led us by a narrative sermon right into Jepthah's world, via a recent news story of a father who allowed his daughter to die by refusing medical help because he believed that God would heal her. With creative imagination always grounded in the text this old story became vivid and troubling. How could God speak through all this?

With pathos he said how Jepthah didn't need to sacrifice his daughter. Jepthath didn't know how God allows substitution for this vow. He needn't have done this. Yet, he is still in the heroes of faith in Hebs. 11:32. Quietly, as the immensity of Jepthah's deed sunk in, Haddon said: 'God overlooks ignorance but he will not overlook unbelief. But the more ignorance the greater the danger; the more ignorantly zealous you are the more dangerous you are.' This was repeated with effect as Haddon began to apply it today. "If someone says they don't know theology - don't trust them! If you don't have both a heart and a head for God you're dangerous to others."

I am remembering this from six days ago. I know I cannot possibly do justice to this sermon, but what a testimony to the power of preaching that so much still resonates with me. On his birthday card I wrote my thanks to Haddon: "Thanks for the depth and the sparkle!" We all wish him well for his next years, but how grateful we are for such inspiring, memorable preaching through the past years.

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