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WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM THE PULPIT?

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM THE PULPIT?

by the Rev. David M. Crosby, Associate Rector, November 19, 2015

Seldom is heard by a preacher at the door following worship, “That was a home run!”

Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, GA, was recently at Virginia Theological Seminary. I had the pleasure of hearing one of the most esteemed homiletics professors of this day lecture on “The Good Funeral and the Good Funeral Sermon” (a.m.) and (p.m.) “Preaching in More Than One Voice: Enchantment, Wisdom, and Disruption.” It was engaging, insightful, and helpful. As most preachers labor more over Sunday sermons rather than the occasional funeral homily, the afternoon lecture carried the day for me.

Dr. Long said a Narrative form of storytelling has been the primary mode for sermons for the last 50 years. Sermons began with a main idea, touch on three point (1, 2, 3) and then pointed to a conclusion. Stories would knit lessons that were read and heard to the presence of God acting in our lives, appealing to the minds and hearts of both the congregation and preacher (Note: If the Word preached doesn’t first speak to the one in the pulpit, it won’t reach anyone else!) Long suggests that there are 2-3 “voices” proclaiming the Good News that are now emerging in the homiletics arena of preaching. Sermons these days speak through Enchantment, Wisdom, and Disruption.

Biblical Wisdom draws primarily from the epistles in the New Testament. They are ‘letters from pastors to fragile communities’ on lessons to be encouraged or amended, if not altogether corrected, guiding people to better knowledge of God and stronger belief in Jesus. Enchantment brings the ‘language of transcendence’ into the process of storytelling--> teaching-->storytelling--> ethics to make relevant the Word of God to and for us in this time and place. And the third voice reminds us just how “disruptive” the Gospel truly is! The Good News of Jesus Christ comes “corrupting the corruption of the culture.” In that, I hear the constant challenge to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Listen, hear and know the ‘edginess‘ of the Gospels can be life-giving!

Tom Long is one of the most popular preachers in our country today. He confessed to having the occasional good or not so good preaching moment, feeling he’s more often ‘middle of the road.’ Hardly. I share this because the Holy Spirit and you continue to mold me as a preacher in our Church and for this parish, Immanuel. May we constantly seek that voice which God intends for each of us as proclaimers as we break scripture open together. May God be proclaimed always, in all ways!

Let me hear what you hear from the pulpit. I’ll be listening at the door.

~ David+