Back when we lived in the city of Nampula, Mozambique, I preached in a little church hidden back in one of the neighborhoods. At the time we just had little Abby and being the curious and energetic two year old that she was, she was prone to getting up very early and not being so patient with Daddy's last minute sermon preparation.
So, on Sunday mornings while I was putting the finishing touches on a sermon (or wildly preparing something from scratch!) I would often put in Pixar's "Finding Nemo" to keep Abby entertained. It tells such a great story of two fish, a father and a son separated from each other and the great links the father goes to in order to find his son.
I was usually finishing up my sermon preparation about the part where little Nemo is stuck in a tank at a dentist's office. Word has spread throughout the ocean of Nemo's father and now Nigel the pelican shows up at the dentist office enthusiastically relating to Nemo the exploits of his Dad. I love the part where Nemo's eyes widen as he listens to the story of a loving father overcoming so many obstacles on his way to rescue a beloved son.
Then Nemo's face changes into one of determination, making a decision to do what he can to get out of the tank. The story of his father's love and action leads this lost child to action - to do what is in his power to be reunited with his Dad.
This part of the story always grabbed my imagination, reminding me of the central tasks of preaching: 1. to tell the story of the extreme lengths the Father goes through in order to rescue a lost child and 2. to tell the story well, telling it in such a way that it leads the hearers to do whatever is in their power to be reunited with the Father.
So, thank you and Abby and thank you Nigel, the pelican, for reminding me what preaching is really about.