Embarrassment really a high honor

The quality that I now like most about my dad’s preaching is the one I used to like least –his storytelling.  As I child, I often cringed whenever Daddy preached because I never knew when I would be the subject of one of his sermon illustrations.  Seemingly he got his best material from his experiences with my brother Nate, and me, and later from our baby sister, Taylor.

In retrospect, being used as a subject matter to illustrate a sermon’s important point[s], for a congregation regarding the Christian walk, is a high honor.  For it illustrates how deeply Daddy loves his children.  Despite his pastor’s schedule, where commitments, were seven days a week, we never needed for anything. We didn’t always recognize the sacrifices that he made to assure our safety and comfort because he rarely if ever complained or even revealed to us what he had given up so that we could have, except for once.  After my first year at college, I returned home with a satin jacket with Spelman College stitched on the front.  I looked up one day and Daddy was wearing it. “I wondered where my jacket was,” I said pretending disgust. “Well,” he said with his usual matter-of-fact sense of humor, “Since all my money’s going down there, I feel like I’m a student there, too!”

Storytelling in preaching, particularly stories from the life of a minister, is a powerful tool because it is the shepherd’s voice saying to his sheep: I am a part of this flock, too! We are all in this together.  Just as you need God’s grace and mercy to get through this life, I need it too – perhaps even more.  Authentic preaching requires that a preacher relate to the trials, tribulations and experiences of those to whom he ministers.  And so the effectiveness of Dr. A. Knighton Stanley’s preaching comes not only from his ability to relate to the plight of his flock, but also from his not being ashamed to admit it.

The art of storytelling also allows Daddy to see God in the mundane things of life and to encourage others to do likewise.  Because of my father’s insistence that God is a God of the spectacular and the ordinary, I am able to recognize God in the faces of my God-children, my mother’s cat, and even in the pregnant possum that lived under my kitchen sink!

Finally, an abiding love and deep respect for people about whom he tells stories comes to life in Daddy’s preaching.  At Daddy’s feet, we learned to treat a queen and a prostitute with the same respect and to be comfortable in the company of either. We also learned that there is a bit of queen in every prostitute and a bit of prostitute in every queen. Daddy taught us by example that our life’s focus should be the people in the world who need a little extra love.  On occasion, my siblings and I have thought that Daddy showed more love to one than to the other.  However, I have come to realize that he identifies with the one who needs him most at the time and gives them the extra support they require. You see, Jesus didn’t love Mary any more than he loved Martha.  Rather Jesus recognized that Mary needed him more at that moment, which is why she sat at his feet.

For those who have experienced messages at Dr. A. Knighton Stanley’s feet and to you who, through this volume, have heard them for the first time, it is my prayer that you will gain what you need at this moment, and in moments to come.  I have and will, for years to come.

Kathryn V. Stanley, Esq.

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Published on August 27, 2009 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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