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When the Roll is Called Down Here

Introduction

I hope you will not feel guilty if your heart was not all aflutter during the reading of the text. It's not very interesting. It's a list of strange names. I always tell my students in preaching class, "When you're preaching from the biblical text, avoid the lists. They're deadly." Here it seems that Paul is calling the roll, which is a strange thing in itself. I have never worshipped in a church in which someone got up and called roll.

Sometimes, calling the roll is not all that bad. Last December I was summoned to Superior Court, DeKalb County, Georgia, to serve on the jury. On Monday morning at nine o'clock, 240 of us formed a pool out of which the jurors for civil and criminal cases would be chosen.

The deputy clerk of the superior court stood and called all 240 names. She did not have them in alphabetical order, so you had to really listen.

There were two Bill Johnsons. One was black, and one was white, but they were both Bill Johnson.

There was a man named Clark who answered when the clerk read, "Mrs. Clark."

He said, "Here."

She looked up and said, "Mrs. Clark."

"Here."

"Mrs. Clark."

Then he stood up and said, "Well, I thought the letter was for me, and I opened it."

The clerk said, "We summoned Mrs. Clark."

"Well," he said, "I'm here. Can I do it? She doesn't have any interest in this sort of thing."

The clerk said, "Mr. Clark, how do you know? She doesn't even know she's been summoned."

This roll call was pretty good. There was a man whose name I wrote down phonetically because I couldn't spell it. His name was Zurfell Lichenstein. I remember it because they went over it five or six times, mispronouncing it each time. He insisted it be pronounced correctly and finally stood in a huff and said, "I see no reason why ...

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Fred B. Craddock is Bandy distinguished professor of preaching and New Testament emeritus at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of Preaching (Abingdon Press).

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Audio Sample:

Sermon Outline:

Introduction

Names hold unseen meaning.

I. Our memories are wrapped up in names.

II. Our fellowship is a fellowship of names.

Conclusion

Names are the key to our fellowship in the future.