Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer of St. Patrick

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Where Does the Sermon Go from Here?

I love preaching. I love everything about it. I love listening to good preaching and gaining insights into preaching from some of the finest commincators in the world. In fact right now I am listening to Ephrem Smith, an African-American pastor from Minneapolis. If I do a phd, I will study homiletics and preaching. I love studying the Greek and the Hebrew of the text. I love studying the world of the text. I love studying our congregation and our world to apply the text. I love looking for stories out in the world to help teach scripture. I love praying and thinking through the best way to commincate to my congregation. I even love the manuscripting and sculpting of the sermon. Sundays are my favorite time of week as the delivery comes from the fruit of labor during the week. Sometimes the fruit is more ripe than others, but God uses the foolishness of my study and my limited communicating skills (at least I hope).

However, I have had several discussions and read several articles and books on where preaching is going. The preaching event itself comes from a greek word that means to proclaim. So a sermon is something that proclaims the Word of God. That does not necessarily mean a professional minister who can read the Greek and Hebrew and uses a microphone on Sunday. Proclamation seems to be more than that in the scripture. Seems to me from scripture that proclamation of the Word of God is both a speech event and a lifestyle. I am saying this because there are some rumblings within the church that my generation might be the last generation of professional preachers in America. The church is dealing with a cultural shift both on the outside and within. Music has already been experimented with. Traditional liturgical churches have stepped away a little bit from their tradition, and traditional free churches have sought beauty and worship in the liturgy. The only part of worship that seems to have remained unchanged is the sermon. That seems to be next. Doug Pagitt has already written a book about this. In an email exchange with a popular preacher, she revealed that she believes that the church will find new ways to proclaim the Word of God through speech in a more communal fashion. This is both exciting and scary for somebody like me who loves to preach. I think there will always be a role for a speech event and for God to use a speech event. But what about you? Where do you think the sermon is going in churches on Sundays?