Craddock on the Craft of Preaching

Craddock, Fred B., ed. Lee Sparks and Kathryn Hayes Sparks

Chalice, 2011

pp. 101 - 102

Craddock lived quite a while, and noticed seemingly everything interesting about human life. One thing he noticed is that, again and again, when the overlay of local customs has been peeled back human life takes certain familiar forms or patterns. [People who hear stories of certain happenings say, “That happened to my sister, too.” Or, “that sounds familiar.” Or, “my Dad used to talk about when things like that happen.”] Preachers need to know these forms and patterns. They are in biblical stories and in contemporary lived experience. The preacher can use these patterns within sermons to create itches, wait, wait, wait, and then scratch.

What are these familiar patterns?
A person digs his own grave.
“A very small act has a major consequence.”
A person is betrayed by a close friend.
A person is mistreated by the person he/she was trying to help.
“Two people die; one goes to hell and one goes to heaven.”
[A mysterious stranger comes to town.]
[A familiar local person leaves town and one day returns.]
A faithful girl is bedeviled by her step-sisters.
The owner of property goes away, leaves the property in the hands of trusted servants, and, on his return, asks for an accounting.
“The king and the peasant change roles.”
“A man has two sons; one stays at home and works hard. The other one goes out and fritters everything away.”
One person bears the sins of his people through suffering and death.