I estimate that in my 47 years of life, I’ve listened to (or listened to myself preaching) somewhere just over 12,000 sermons. That’s about 5 per week and considering all the revival services, conferences, school chapels, etc… I’ve sat through over the years in addition to the regular schedule of Sunday morning, Sunday school, Sunday night and Wednesday night services, I think I’m being very conservative in my count. Let’s just agree that I’m not being hyperbolic with my count.
In that dozen-to-the-power-of-a-thousand number, I’ve heard some powerful messages filled with depth, inspiration and spiritual meat. But, I’ve also heard some stunning clunkers, odd-and-I-mean-ODD stuff and a few out-n-out heretical junk.
So for this edition of “Listomania!” I thought I’d share my weirdest ones and then ask you for yours (which is why I am really writing this list.)
1. The Washcloth Sermon
When I was a kid, my pastor was once preaching on I-don’t-know-what, but he went off on a tangent about washclothes and sissy men and said that “Washclothes have a rough side and a smooth side and real men use the rough side to wash and only sissies use the smooth side.” This thoroughly traumatized me as not only had I not noticed the differences in sides (not exactly observant, was I?), but I highly suspected that I had been using the smooth side which made me a total Nancy Pants.
2. The WEIRDEST Internet Sermon EVER
This freakazoid has been making the rounds all over the internet and is a YouTube sensation. He preaches on a verse from the KJV that uses a coarse term for urinating in the most twisted way you could ever imagine. At first, I thought it was a parady, but I’ve heard from others that this guy is for real — and I use “real” in the broadest sense of the word I know. You’ll find it HERE.
3. Anti-Wire-Rim-Glasses Sermon
I once heard a guy preach against Wire-Rims because they were worn by hippies and hippies believed in revolution and free love and promiscuity. Sadly, this was during the 1980’s and he was about 25 years too late. Poor Benjamin Franklin, he never really had a chance.
4. The “Don’t Part-Your-Hair-Down-the-Middle” Sermon
According to this one, those who parted their hair down the middle were closet gays. If your hair was long and parted down the middle, well you might as well wear a tutu and wave a rainbow flag. Real Christian men wore their hair high and tight — like in the military. I always wondered what this guy said when a lot of gay guys started cutting their hair real short. (Interestingly, this guy was later revealed to be one of the most immoral guys to ever stand behind a pulpit.)
5. The Pink Shirt Sermon
During college, an entire chapel service was dedicated to the topic of guys who dared to wear lavender or pink shirts — a hot new fashion trend in the early 1980’s. To make the matter even more offensive, the preacher lambasted a simultaneous trend that was taking place — wearing a knit “sock” tie (I don’t know why they called them that) which one wore tucked into the top of the pants. Apparently, the tucking it in at the top of the pants was somehow suggestive. My friend snorted when he heard that and asked if they were going to outlaw the girls wearing necklaces next. Of course, guess what I was wearing that day? Yep…a pink shirt with a gray knit tie neatly tucked into the top of my pants. (Does anyone notice the preoccupation with sexual subthemes here?)
6. Satan Claus Sermon
I’ve actually heard multiple sermons about Satan vs. Santa — both cause people to lie, both wear red (Not sure about the theological basis of Satan wearing red), both have the same letters in their names, both from the “north”, etc…, etc… Variations have included preaching against the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Christmas Trees and Halloween. (I’m actually in agreement with some of the points raised about turning cultural icons and traditions into mini-idols, but just don’t know that the topic is worthy of an ENTIRE sermon.)
7. Date Setting of the Rapture
I’ve heard some real whacky prophecy preachers set some general dates for the rapture that have included the years 1976, 1981 (Planets were aligning), 1988, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2007 and so on. Some even used urban legends to bolster their claims like that the vultures in the Middle East were laying more eggs than usual in order to eat the leftover carcasses of those killed at Armeggedon. I’ve always been curious as to how cats dropped from ladders always land on their feet and how prophecy gurus who consistently misinterpret current events in light of eschatological Scripture passages still have any credibility at all, let alone maintain an audience.
8. Health Food Sermons
Our little church had a pastor that went through a health food kick and who insisted on preaching on the topic every sermon for MONTHS. It culminated in a bus load of “believers” going to the city to have some quack analyze their spit and map the blood vessels in their eyes. (I think they may have had to sacrifice a goat too…JUST KIDDING!) One of our old deacons who lived into his nineties muttered — “I’ve been eating a bowl of ice cream every night before I go to bed for the last 30 years and I’m not about to stop now.”
9. Sit-Close-to-Your-Husband-While-You-Are-in-the-Car Sermon Tangent
This was actually a rabbit trail on a larger sermon on the topic of romance. I heard a guy wax on about how you shouldn’t own a car with bucket seats and that real Godly wives always sat right next to their husbands while they were driving. (Shall we all pause to roll our eyes right now?)
10. Square-Dancing-is-of-the-Devil Sermon
Apparently, for some, wildly skipping in geometric patterns while boomeranging a partner with nearly enough force to cause a concusion while working up a sweat that would make an NFL running back in Miami during summer training look like he’s chillaxin’ can lead to wicked thoughts, fornication and possible evil concupiscence. I can’t help wondering, however, if I’d learned to square dance when I was younger if I might still be able to see my feet.
So what your favorite “sermons”, tangents and illustration that made for memorable moments during your pew-sitting experiences? Feel free to share them in the comment section and have a great Monday!