Two years ago, on a brilliantly sunny day in February, I spoke to a small session of this Institute on the subject of preaching. In an address entitled "Behold I Tell You a Mystery: We Shall Not All Sleep," I attempted to initiate a discourse with clergy about preaching, in which the lay voice was not simply a mumbled sentence of praise or criticism given at the church door on Sunday morning, but was instead a participant in a more fully engaged meeting of minds and hearts. I commented at the outset on my claims to a purely lay status, since as far as I knew there had been no clergy in my family since the Civil War. However, I must stand corrected on that point. Mrs. Henrietta Stemmler, now 87 and a resident of Ft. Wayne, has written to tell me that as my grandmother's cousin, she wishes to assure me that one of her sister's grandsons is a Lutheran pastor in Texas, and so I do have a clergy relative after all. I was pretty well floored by this; revelations about one's family background have a way of reordering the way you look at the world--witness Tarzan, Tom Jones, Oedipus, Moll Flanders and so on. So I come before you this time somewhat humbled from my previously proud, purely lay position. I am closer to being one with the clergy, however hard that is to swallow, and thus I cannot take the high and mighty tone that some people said characterized my last talk.
Eifrig, Gail McGrew, "More Mysteries, or, Why We Still Come to Church Anyway" (1987). Institute of Liturgical Studies Occasional Papers. Paper 27.