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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.

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