One Word – Devotional

One of the first churches I voluntarily attended regularly had a preacher who was very rousing, but his point was always the same. I was pretty critical of this at the time, I think because I expected and wanted more variety.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human commandments as [authoritative] teaching.” – Matthew 15:8 (Gafney, Wilda C. A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church)

Fast forward 20-something years, and now I preach 52 weeks a year and special services, too. Talk to any honest preacher, and they’ll admit this secret to you: We all have just one sermon, with different words. Usually.

Here’s what I think Jesus has to say about this: If you’ve only got one thing to say, it better be right.

Here’s my one sermon:

God loves you. No matter what. Now live your life and do something about it because, no matter what, you can.

That’s pretty much the pocket point of everything I preach, which I firmly believe comes from the Gospels, from Jesus himself. Alas, too often the one thing people in my position have to say tends to be tragically wrong. Too often the one word people in the church express through our lives is harmfully wrong.

If our one embodied sermon doesn’t involve God’s unconditional love, then when we come to the word, we’ll contort it into something God never intended. And Jesus hates this. It pollutes spirits. It toxifies the Bible.

In my interpretation, Jesus’ one sermon was: turn back to God’s love, which has not, will not, ever ever forsake you.

God help me, God help us, when we stray from this. But when we do? Let’s pray this:


Turn us back, oh God, to proclaiming your love. Amen.

About the Author

Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.