Landon Whitsitt was the speaker at a conference I attended back in November. He co-wrote a book called
Open Source Church.
As you can probably guess, he and I bonded over nerd stuff. In fact, during the first break I mentioned that I had bought the Kindle version of his book on Amazon, run it through calibre with the appropriate tools to remove the DRM so I could convert it to a PDF and take notes in the PDF during his lecture.
To which he replied, “Oh, you’re going to have to show me how to do that. I have friends who can’t get the Kindle book in their country and I have wanted to send them a copy.”
I think it’s safe to say that is not the response that you’d get from most authors if you told them you’d bought and de-DRM’d their book.
Anyway this week he collected sermons, prayers, and liturgies which pastors had used last Sunday after the tragedy in Newtown. A former co-worker of mine had seen my "On Newtown" post on Facebook and suggested that I send it to him.
He compiled these into a free eBook/PDF called A Good Word which you can get via
Google Docs or
download the PDF here.
(It’s completely free. You don’t even have to supply any personal information to download it. Just click either of those links.)
Here is his introduction to the collection:
Before I went to bed on the night of December 14, 2012, I took to Facebook and offered what I hoped was a word of encouragement to my colleagues:
Preachers: Dig deep and rely on your training. Your people need you to offer hope this Sunday. Don’t lose hope. Trust the truth of the Resurrection that we have been called to proclaim. I will pray for you fervently.
In the aftermath of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, preachers all over the United States were wondering how, exactly, they were supposed to preach joy in two days. How, exactly, were they supposed to do anything but weep?
Later, in a blog post, I wrote,
You are reeling, and you are wondering what you will say in the face of this massive tragedy because you just want to sit and cry and pray.
And that is good and natural, but, for you, that is not your calling.
You have been called to preach Hope. You have been called to preach Life. You have been called to preach Love.
The sermons, prayers, and liturgies you will find in this volume stand as a testament to the many women and men who dug deep, trusted their God, and offered the most hopeful word they could muster.
In some cases, these words are pointed and direct - even Job-like in quality. In others, there is a tenderness that places a healing balm on one?s heart. In all cases, however, these preachers responded to their communities and offered the word they knew the people they are called to serve needed to hear.
Let this collection - this archive of Christian practice - serve as an Ebenezer, that on December 16, 2012, when we were grieving and nearing despair, God was good to us, and gave us a good word to hear.
Landon Whitsitt, Archiver
I’m grateful to be part of this collection, and offer it in case folks have an interest in reading what others said in light of this tragedy.
Oh, and by the way, Landon also had surgery to repair his deviated septum on Wednesday. (Yup, the same surgery I had 4 weeks ago.) And he still found time to compile this and put it out there. No, it’s not super high-tech, but it’s sufficient. I wish we had a similar collection of sermons from the Sunday after 9/11.
~One last thing…~
Did I mention that Landon is a church nerd? Yes, he used the word ‘Ebenezer’ which you have almost certainly never heard outside of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol so allow me to answer your next question by quoting from What’s An Ebenezer?
While a humorous image, an Ebenezer is not a grizzled old miser who keeps his office way too cold and doesn’t pay Bob Cratchet enough. The term comes from Scripture, so let’s see what Scripture has to say.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. 1 Samuel 7:12-14 NRSV
It is usually transliterated as a proper name by dropping the definite article (Ha) from the Hebrew word for “help” (Ezer) and putting it together with the Hebrew word for “stone” (Even) to create: “Ebenezer.” The etymological roots of the word, thus defined, should demonstrate that an “Ebenezer” is, literally, a “Stone of Help.”
So there you have it.