"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)

15 December 2011

Preaching on Mary this weekend...

One of the difficult things in preaching is the familiar story, the one that everyone knows so well they could recite it in Sunday School terms in their sleep so that it feels like there's nothing new to say.

One of the difficult things in preaching is to realize that when we have something "new" we think we want to say that it's usually heresy. Orthodox Christianity has been around a while and there's not much that wasn't said in the last two thousand years.

One of the difficult things in preaching is the temptation to be entertaining.

Damn. That is a problem.

And clever.

And a crafter of lovely sermon-art.

Because those things are narcissistic.

So I'm preaching on Sunday, on the BVM, aka Our Lady, aka Mother Mary. And I'm thinking of starting out with a Hebrew word and some Greek.

Which is usually just a sign that the preacher is full of herself.

But I think its cool that Jesus came to change our destiny (that's the crux of the sermon, for the curious sneak-peeker (Dave)) and that Jesus more than fulfills the prophecy about him and that his identity is clear and clearly articulated by some gentile doctor who ran around with St. Paul.

And I think its cool that angels aren't fat little babies with wings, but rather fierce. And I'm thinking of bringing my husband's grandmother's batik on silk of Gabriel who looks like he might be just a little feral. Or at least tough.

I've torn a lot of pages out of my notebook trying to figure out how to structure this thing. I like to type out ideas, but I'm changing my note style for a season, in part because there is no pulpit at St. Elizabeth's to hide behind, or at least to hold my notes. So I'm writing this one by hand, at least for now I think I am. But percolating all these ideas into one is a rough road right now. Biblical theology is like a salad, all sorts of good stuff jumbled up together but hard (right now) to string into a sermon.

Part of it is that the people are new to me still. And part may be that I'm not preaching as often as I was in previous parishes. And part of it is that I think I have lost the overinflated estimation I once had of my own preaching. Rats. It was fun thinking I was good.


  1. Say, you left out "comforting" and/or "challenging." And "warm, pink, fuzzy."

  2. I don't get around the blogs as I used to, so when I came upon yours this evening, I thought I would mention a poem by Denise Levertov (if you aren't familiar with her, read her) - the title of the poem is "Annunciation" and the phrase that always blows me out of the water when I read it is "God waited." He waited for Mary to say yes. Mind-boggling. I made it a point to preach on Mary at least twice a year - my form of doing Penance for the way Protestants have treated her for nearly 5 centuries.