A sermon may be considered a success if listeners ask themselves, “Is that really in the Bible?” That question came to The Old Fool on Sunday, even though he knew the answer. He read judges 4 and 5 again and was surprised at the number of women mentioned in it: Deborah, Jael, Sisera’s mother and her wisest ladies and their hope that her son in victory was dividing the plunder among the men, a woman or two for each man, colorful garments, etc.
The Old Fool has empathy for a preacher who feels called to preach from a difficult passage of scripture. In your introduction you did right to note the difficulty of taking a Mennonite congregation back several thousand years to the culture of the book of judges.The task is tough because the congregation must cross over Jesus and what we old timers called a change of dispensations from law to grace.
The Old Fool suspects that many in the congregation on Sunday were uncomfortable with the sermon. It seemed to The Old Fool that the discomfort could have been eased by concluding with a reference to the preeminence of Jesus and an acknowledgement that if Deborah were living as a Christian in our day she would be a different woman. A general rule for The Old Fool is that every sermon should begin and end with Jesus.
The Old Fool remembers a sermon of his own some years ago from Judges 4. He focused on Barak and discovered that many commentators considered him a weak man because he would not venture to lead without Deborah going with him. Instead, The Old Fool found Barak an unusually strong man for his day. He urged Christian men in the church to say to the women, we will not undertake any venture without you. As you know, different preachers preach different sermons from the same text.