The late Fred Craddock was a professor of preaching for many years down at Emory, although I learned that he had early in his life taught at a college in Enid, Oklahoma, and knew some of the people from my home town. It was at the College of Preachers in Washington that I got to learn from him.
His sermons were full of stories of things in his life where he saw something remarkable. He insisted, however, that his life was just like everyone else’s. God wasn’t any more present to him than to anyone else; his life was no more remarkable than anyone’s. What was different, he said, was that he didn’t let his life run through him like a sieve. Instead, he wrote things down.
He told us that he had notebooks full of things he had noticed and written down shortly after they happened—written by hand, by pencil, “just as God intended,” he said. It was an inspiration to me.
One little notebook of mine has recently surfaced. It looks like I took Craddock’s advice to heart, if only half-heartedly. There are short entries written in pen, scattered over about five years, starting in 1992. I was a rector back then in a small church in the Hudson Valley.
Indeed, remarkable things were happening, most of which, I find, I have forgotten. I’m thankful for Fred Craddock; thankful for this notebook; thankful indeed for what God has done.
[An entry from June 1992:] There are two relatively new families whom I hadn’t seen for a few weeks. I called one last week. “Hi, this is Father Austin, just thinking about you and wondering how you are.” Apologies for missing church, and explanations—out of town, etc.—then: “I just came home from the doctor and I’m pregnant. Want to speak with [my husband]?” They were happy and proud, surprised too at the speed of things.
And then, yesterday, I phoned the other couple. Apologies for missing church, and explanations, and guilt over laziness, and then: “We’re expecting another baby.”
I wondered, whom should I call next?
Out & about. This Sunday, February 19, I’ll be preaching at the 10 a.m. service at St. Andrew’s new Westridge campus in McKinney: 2301 Eden Dr. It meets in an elementary school there.
There will be a three-week class on Losing Susan at Incarnation, starting Monday, February 27, at 6 p.m. Each week we’ll take up one part of the book: I’ll offer some theological reflections on that part of the story, and then we’ll open it up for discussion. Incarnation is at 3966 McKinney Ave., Dallas.