Simon Ponsonby’s Butcher Sermon
Sunday 6th June.
Here was the text, James 3.
1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
Simon Ponsonby was so overcome by this that he felt unable to preach his sermon, which, ominously for anyone foolhardy enough to pick the passage, began with “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
He preached with great authority, sincerity, rhetorical power–and wow! (to go with the above)–brevity. He was a butcher, he said, and went on to prove it.
Leaning over, he pulled out a massive ox’s tongue, which he lovingly handled, caressing its cartilage, fat and gristle.
An unbeautiful thing, black-streaked. Eee-ooh, the congregation gasped.
Ponsonby said, “You think this is ugly. But this is tongue that has never lied, never cut down someone else, never puffed itself up, never exaggerated, never praised God and then slagged off the vicar!!, never abused, never cursed, never irredeemiably wounded another.”
“From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Salt springs cannot bring forth fresh water.”
He then went on to the lovely injunction in Col. 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.”
Grace, in the Koine Greek was Charis–gifts, benefits, favours. So, let your speech be full of gifts, benefits, and favours.
And seasoned with salt. Let it be both prudent and savoury.
“Jesus was generous,” Ponsonby said, “when he opened his mouth, gifts came forth.”
He went on to say that we ourselves would be healed and blessed if our tongue spoke blessings.
The whole thing was over in 5 minutes max.
Visibly overcome, he sat down and asked us to use the extra time to reflect and repent in silence on our speech and our hearts.
God willing, Simon Ponsonby’s multi-sensory sermon will stay with us for a while.
May it be so, Lord.