It's Not The Words You Remember

There are two things that everybody claims they never can remember, one are jokes. You know somebody tells a joke and you say I know so many jokes I can't remember any of them. The other thing is sermons. It's true; it's true for me too. I've often thought: what is it with these two things? Why is it we can't remember both jokes and sermons? I think the answer is because if it's a really good joke what you really remember is not the gag but the laughter, how you laughed at it. And if it's a really good sermon, it's not the words you remember or the illustrations or even the text you remember, it's the sense you had of its reality of what it conveyed to you of holiness, not what it said to you about it.

  • from a lecture on preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary's Henderson Conference in 1986