"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A few random thoughts on preaching.

I almost always enjoy preaching. I even, in my own warped sort of way, enjoy short notice preaching and the few times I've thrown away a sermon between services I've gotten really jazzed on the impromptu replacement sermon. Maybe I'm addicted to some sort of endorphin rush or maybe I just like expounding the Scriptures. Some would probably correct me and insist that I just like the sound of my own voice.

But right now I'm feeling really uninspired about Sunday. I've had that feeling before and a little time pressure is almost always the remedy, but the experience is making me wonder just what it is that I actually like about preaching. And what is it about Sunday's lessons that leaves me feeling uninspired.

Sunday's lessons are all about how life can get you down and how we are to be "good people" in the face of what can only be described with modern grunt "meh." It's all about when bad stuff happens to good people and how to go on being good anyway. I hate moralizing. And I have heard way too many pedantic sermons on how bad life is and how we are to play nice that I could scream. There's no way I will allow myself to participate in that nonsense. I have too much pulpit integrity (or arrogance, take your pick) for that.

But there is an element in the Scriptures of "how then should we live," as Paul says. Don't assume I'm on the "free grace, no obligations or expectations" bandwagon. Grace is certainly free, but nonetheless demanding. But there is more to the Gospel than "stuff happens, now go play nice."

And I am very sure I preached a decent enough sermon on these lessons three years (or, gulp! was it six years) ago.

All this makes me wonder what it is I like about preaching. And I think the answer is that I enjoy the many facets of the biblical text, drawing them out, tuning them like a musical instrument, and making them sing for the congregation. The text preaches itself, at least most of the time. I love the feeling that I'm soaring to the heights on the back of the biblical eagle, riding along on a great swooping dance among the clouds, and taking the congregation along with me.

Oh well, if you are in Carnegie this week and find that the sermon soars to the clouds, you'll know that's not the preacher's doing... the preacher grunts along on the ground, wholly unimpressed with herself. Oh well, such an accurate self-assessment is at least a sound beginning.

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