Monday, January 17, 2011

FW: Thoughts upon the Task of Preaching

On preaching…


Feed: Confessional Gadfly
Posted on: Monday, January 17, 2011 4:09 PM
Author: Rev. Eric J Brown
Subject: Thoughts upon the Task of Preaching


Preaching is an interesting thing. I live in Oklahoma, a land where I'm apt to be referred to, even by my own parishioners, as "the Preacher". One good thing about the Bible Belt, they still get the idea that a pastor is supposed to preach.

I tend to contrast preaching with teaching. I love teaching. I love sitting down and tearing through a text, examining it, bringing up all sorts of connections and the like. I love asking questions and seeing how people answer - I especially love it when my class starts asking questions that are good - that show me that they are thinking theologically. I love bringing in points of history, making connections.

But that's not preaching. Preaching is not fundamentally teaching or explaining a text -- you'll do some of that, perhaps, but that's not the point of preaching. To preach is to apply a text - to take this Gospel text and lay it over your people, let it nestle into the nooks and crannies of their lives, and then say, "See, this is how what Jesus does here applies to you, here's how it impacts you."

I enjoy preaching - I enjoy the writing of a sermon, the pondering of what in a given text my congregation needs to hear (I was pondering this as I wrote... this whole, "I should try taking Mondays off" is an utter failure, especially when me bride is out of town). I enjoy going back and forth over how I ought to put a turn of phrase - and I enjoy giving the sermon, often putting forth a 3rd option I hadn't thought of before. But when it boils down to it, all preaching must take this text, indeed, take the life and death of Christ Jesus and say, "This is what this means for you, now, this day, this place - this is the effect and impact of Christ upon you."

And so preaching will always be new - because the people will always be. . . different. Needing different things, different applications. Preaching is infinitely repeatable, a well never to be gotten to the bottom of.

I may love teaching, but preaching, sometimes preaching boggles the mind.

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