Monday, November 21, 2011

Sermon - Reign of Christ 2011

Here is my sermon from Sunday. I was pleased with it, and the congregation certainly liked it. Here are the texts that we read on Sunday. On Reign of Christ Sunday it seems imperative to deal with eschatology and perhaps to unpack all this stuff about "kingdom" and its implications.

I don't love my use of the word "promise" is this sermon--I just couldn't think of the right word to express what I meant about the kingdom conceived in terms of this world. I probably should have thumbed through Rowan Greer's great book on eschatology, Christian Hope and Christian Life: Raids on the Inarticulate. It's been a while since I've read my former professors wonderful book, but people familiar with it will recognize the influences, even if I didn't mention any Patristic or Medieval examples. Anyway, I should have thumbed through the book to remind myself of the arguments and language, but I just ran out time in preparing.

Something positive I noticed giving this sermon is that I felt very fluid and dynamic with the words I was using. Sometimes I can stumble a bit when I'm actually stringing things together. I mean, the meaning will usually be clear enough, but it is hard to have the elegance and poetry of written rhetoric when you are preaching extemporaneously with only a brain tree of spacially arranged concepts in front of you and the memory of what you want to say within. I think what really marks great extemp preachers is their ability to be not merely coherent, but actually poetic and concise and elegant as they speak. I don't always manage that, but with practice I've certainly improved.

One last observation, the image of the cedar tree was something that occurred to me on Saturday during some pastoral counselling. I was trying to describe to someone what God's promises might mean for them--how it was something beyond the mere solution to today's problems--and this image of the tree popped into my head. Bishop Yu often talks about the connection between pastoral care and preaching, and this is another example of the truth of that.

One more point for aspiring preachers out there: notice that when I told the story of the New Yorker Cartoon, I didn't assume I would get a laugh out of people. Remember that the original joke was essentially a visual gag, and those are very hard to convey verbally in a way that will get real laughter out of people. But I didn't need people to guffaw to get immediately into this notion of the two conversations happening.

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