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Preaching with Childlike Wonder

No matter how many times you have preached on a particular Bible text, there are new riches waiting to be discovered and proclaimed.

During my first pastorate in a small town in northeastern Minnesota, I had the privilege of befriending an older parishioner named Howard Ballou, a gentle dairy farmer with huge hands and soft eyes, who lived to the ripe old age of 91. Throughout his long life, Howard suffered many losses: the death of his ten-year-old son; the sale of the family-run dairy farm (and even his precious Guernsey cows); the death of his wife and lifelong sweetheart, Chloe; and then at the twilight of his life, the reconstruction of both knees. Towards the end of his life, Howard struggled and ached. The once strong dairy farmer, who had worked 14 hour days, now clung to his aluminum walker with each painful step. At times, his body and his spirit shook with sadness. But even until his last breath, there was one thing Howard never lost: his childlike sense of wonder.

When I visited Howard six months before his death, he had a Bible (open to Leviticus 13) and a TV Guide perched on his lap. "Howard," I asked, ...

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