Fred Craddock, one of America’s great preachers who died last Friday, was honored Sunday by CNN. Click HERE to see the CNN video and written tribute.
In this post on Views from the edge, two other preachers influenced by Fred Craddock share their stories. The first came by email from McCormick Theological Seminary classmates and friend Harry Strong, recently retired, in Prescott, Arizona:
Fred may have been small in stature, but he was truly a homiletical giant! I still remember sitting with him and Barbara Brown Taylor in a preaching seminar back in 1985 at Kirkridge in eastern Pennsylvania. Fred was talking about the texts in Mark that made you want to interrupt Mark’s narrative and say, “Wait a minute … wait a minute! Mark, you can’t drop that sentence to the middle of the story and then move on!” One I especially remember was Mark 6:48 — “When (Jesus) saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by …” And Fred interjected: “Mark! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! ‘He saw them straining at oars … he came towards them, walking on the sea – and HE INTENDED TO PASS THEM BY???’ Where the heck was he GOING??!!
A second email arrived from Bob Young who once served as Pastor First Presbyterian Church in Enid, Oklahoma. Bob is no retired in Corsicana, Texas:
Fred Craddock lived a block away from me in Enid. I chaired the Fall Festival of Faith for the Council of Churches one year. Fred was our preacher. It was a treat to work with him. We met several times to prepare the liturgy for the services. He often preached at the chapel services of Phillips Theological Seminary where I was an adjunct. He ALWAYS — and I mean ALWAYS — left us as people who knew we had overheard the Gospel again. We laughed and cried and listened with wrapt attention. I hate to admit this, but one time, as he began to preach, I said to myself “I will not let him hook me today. I will just sit here and be stoic.” By the end of the sermon I had tears in my eyes. In my experience he simply could not be ignored. When he preached, barely visible behind a pulpit in that squeaky little voice, everyone listened. Amazing just amazing.
I was at the funeral he preached for a Phillips faculty member who had battled cancer for years. Still gives me goose bumps. A very fine, humble, amazingly gifted and faith-filled gentle man. I have been rereading Cherry Log Sermons and the book of his “parables.” Whew!
Quite independently of each other, Harry and Bob each ended his email by calling attention to Fred Craddock’s Cherry Log Sermons.
Thank you, Fred, for your long ministry of thoughtful humor and tears. “Well done, good and faithful servant….Enter into the joy of your Lord” [Matthew 25:23].
– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 11, 2015.