Centennial Moments

Researched & Written by David Goeke


WHEN DOES A GOOD SERMON END?

A gifted man, the Rev. Dr. Carl Heckmann, served in several areas of church work in his career. From 1941-1955, he served congregations in Navasota, Eden and Menard. In 1955, he was elected to the position of the Director of Stewardship of the Texas District, LCMS. Then, in 1955, he was elected President of the Texas District. He also achieved the rank of full Colonel in the Air Force Reserves. Carl Heckmann was a practical man, a mediator, a fine preacher, a good administrator and a man with a sense of humor.

Carl Heckmann’s wit can be seen in a note that he wrote to Dr. Roland Wiederanders, a former president of the Texas District. Having preached at one of Dr. Wiederander’s former congregations, Dr. Heckmann wrote him a note, a portion of which is shared below:

"Yesterday, I thought about you a lot as I occupied your former pulpit in San Antonio. For the service, I used the same hymnal that you used. I gather that you used it, since the margins of the 'page five' section are annotated in your familiar handwriting. The notes and comments are all clear. However, in the hymn before the sermon, my eyes strayed to one of those comments, and I wondered just what you meant. In the hymnal, under "the sermon", I find this notation "a good sermon ends after twenty minutes". There were no identifying accentuating marks, and I didn't know just which word should receive the emphasis. Should it be:

"A GOOD sermon ends after twenty minutes".

"A good SERMON ends after twenty minutes"

"A good sermon ENDS after twenty minutes"

or "A good sermon ends AFTER twenty minutes"?"