Sermons are like fresh vegetables: best consumed close to the garden. They tend to lose their taste when packaged for the mass market. These sermons collected from the days after September 11 were harvested and brought to the table quickly, so nobody had time to pretty them up. They have not fallen far from the vine.
There was a time when I was willing to declare what good preaching is: "Every sermon must begin with a scripture text," I declared. "Every sermon must go by Calvary. Every good preacher holds the newspaper in one hand and the scriptures in the other." And yet the formal rules of preaching seem like hurdles which able preachers routinely surmount in the struggle to proclaim the gospel.