I have just finished grading 16 sermons from my intensive preaching course. Hence my zero posts recently. One of my students said: "I am glad to be among the first students to take this experimental course but I know there are improvements you can make." There certainly are, though I see no way to avoid the crunch grading of each preacher which has taken hours these past days!
Overall, the standard of preaching has been high but I have noticed a common tendency to focus sermon outcomes on our own limited concerns. It reminds me of the contrast drawn between two doors in Revelation. Famously, Rev. 3:20 describes the closed door outside which Christ stands and knocks for he needs to be invited inside. I guess this picture (aided by Holman Hunt) has been a dominant one in much evangelism because it encourages a faith response of will to Christ the Savior. "Let him into your life as Lord and Savior".
However, Rev.4:1 describes a very different door: 'After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven' and a voice spoke like a trumpet: 'Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this'. This is the door that is now gloriously open and which must be entered by God's grace.
Rev. 3:20 invites the Lord into our world, to become the center of our lives; Rev 4:1 invites us to become part of God's world and his big story from creation to consummation. The first puts Christ central to our small world of thinking and living, which is so often trapped in culture that it relegates Christ to the margins of our ethics, finances, and relationships. This is much safer because we set the expectations and keep them comfortable. The second, places Christ as supreme, reigning over a new reality called his kingdom which recasts our little lives into his bigger purposes, turning on their head most cultural assumptions. This is, what one writer calls, 'the dangerous act of worship' where loving God and loving neighbor overwhelms selfish living.
I embark on the next round of intensive teaching shortly (so shall probably be incommunicado again) but I long for more dangerous worship in the sermons I hear and, much more difficult. .....in the life I lead.