Friday, March 7, 2008

Disagreeing with myself

I have just stumbled across something I wrote some time ago: "There should be no small sermons - all preaching should stretch heart, soul, mind, and strength." I imagine that I was spurring myself (and others) on towards bigger sermons full of God. And I would still argue such a big vision of preaching is important. As Richard Baxter famously wrote: " I preached as never sure to preach again, And as a dying man to dying men."

But I also recognize how heroically bombastic it can sound! Aiming for the horizon I can miss what's under my nose. Don't some sermons, in order to stretch hearers, need to go small? Not small in Spirit, but smaller in scale?

I was challenged by Eugene Peterson in Subversive Spirituality. Asked what he would preach about if he knew this was his last sermon, he answered:

I think I would want to talk about things that are immediate and ordinary. In the kind of world we live in, the primary way that I can get people to be aware of God is to say, "Who are you going to have breakfast with tomorrow, and how are you going to treat that person?" I don't feel like I'm part of the big vision or the catchy slogan. I just want to pay attention to what people are doing and help them do it in acts of faith and prayer. I guess I'd want to say, "Go home and be good to your wife. Treat your children with respect. And so a good job whatever you've been given to do."

That's no small sermon!

No comments: