Well, maybe “every sermon ever” is a bit of an exaggeration. How about “all of the sermons at Emmanuel since we began which we have recordings of”? That better? Cos that’s what is now available here on the website.
On one level the job of adding all 268 sermons has just been data inputting. The kind of thing I did on my gap year in a number of dreary offices. But on another level it’s been a great experience. (And not just because I’m a bit sad and I quite like those repetitive jobs with a clear beginning, middle and end.)
I’ve listened to snippets of almost all of those sermons and a good number of them the whole way through. I’ve loved seeing how we’ve grown as a church. Emmanuel has always been a church which is lead from the Bible; letting the Word set the direction. And that means that the sermons really are driving things, alongside all the other countless ways in which the Bible is opened and applied. Working through the various series’ since the start has helped me trace how Emmanuel has got to where it is today five years on.
Looking back, I can remember particular sermons which struck me and were formative. And I remember series’ where I was especially aware of God shaping us as a church. The Ephesians series from Spring 2009 was a wonderful time of being gathered together as a church. The Walk was also a particularly precious time of deeply applying the Word to the basics of living the Christian life, with people being equipped to live for Jesus. I feel similarly about our 1 Peter series from last term.
Even before my time, the series on Ecclesiastes was great at dealing with life in all it’s frustrations and joys, and represents some of the things I love about Emmanuel – taking every part of the Bible seriously and applying the gospel in the nitty-gritty of normal life. And the first ever series at Emmanuel on The Church (even though we’re missing a few MP3s) really set the tone for what was to come.
But alongside the real highlights, I’ve been encouraged by the more average sermons. I don’t meant that as a criticism! Far from it. After all, many of the more average ones have been preached by me! One of C.J. Mahaney’s pieces of advice to all pastors is this: “I think you should be amazed that those who heard you preach last Sunday come back—and even at times bring guests.” That’s certainly how I feel often. But I’m encouraged to remember that the ordinary, run-of-the-mill, could-have-been-better sermons can still be used mightily by God. Each and every sermon on this website represents a real time when God’s Word was opened, explained and driven home to God’s people, and when that happens the Holy Spirit can do wonderful things. Even if we just had the Bible reading then skipped straight to the final song, God will use His Word to accomplish His purposes so praise God for ordinary sermons!
But as ordinary as some of these are and as wonderful as many are, all of them have been prepared with love. It’s really hit me just thinking about the sheer amount of hard work that went into preaching that many sermons. The hours, prayers, tears, love, study and energy behind each one is enormous. Praise God for that. And long may it continue. With the internet you can listen to the best preachers in the world without even getting out of bed. But there’s something special about a sermon where the preacher knows you, was thinking of you in his preparation and praying for how he could bless you and your church in particular.
So can I encourage you to use the Bible talks on this website to equip you, encourage you, challenge you and guide you? If you miss a Sunday, try to catch up. If you have some spare time like a commute or a road trip or you’re tidying or washing up, stick on an old sermon to be fed. And if it’s helped you in any way, pass it on. After all, that’s what preaching really is: finding some treasure and having a heart to share what you’ve found.
Which sermons or series’ do you particularly remember?
You can find all our Bible talks here on our website, where you can also find details of how to subscribe to our podcast.