It is an ecclesial crime to preach a thoughtless and irrelevant sermon. (65)
So premises Gregory M. Howard, editor of the newly-released Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness: Contemporary Theologies of Preaching (BorderStone Press 2014). It is the first book on my summer reading list, admittedly because I contributed one of the chapters but more importantly because I’m eager to read the perspectives of my colleagues in the book and to be kept ever on my toes by them in this ministry of preaching the Word.
Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness is an academic work aimed to critique the hermeneutically casual or contextually negligent preacher by uplifting seven theologies of contemporary preaching.
The contributors study a rich history of wisdom — from Aristotle to Paul Tillich, Samuel DeWitt Proctor to Katie Geneva Cannon — in identifying the challenges and convictions of modern preaching as well as the theological underpinnings that compel their own sermons Sunday after Sunday. While the contributors each bring their particular perspectives, collectively they agree that the sermon must relate to and impact change within people’s lives here & now, not merely proclaim the sweet by & by for which people must wait patiently.
Preachers are faced with the daunting responsibility of proclaiming fresh and relevant messages that liberate, as well as lead, people into a life of practicing the reign of God — transforming the world one life at a time. (149)
On a personal note, it was fascinating to reread my chapter, “Opening the Canon,” which I wrote several years prior to the final publication. What I see in my writing (of which I am constantly critical and I would edit endlessly except that there is more to write) is not only a reflection of my preaching theology but also the foundational compulsion of my upcoming book, Sacred Pause:
[to challenge] the literary stagnancy of scriptural translations that rely on coded and encumbered language, lacking relevance to non or new Christians who find the words outdated and losing the provocative edge with lifelong Christians whose familiarity with biblical words too often becomes a source of contentment. (53)
What are you reading this summer? Feel welcome to share as a blog comment! I’ll be posting my summer reading as the Monday Muse series for the summer, in part to share the joy & resource of books and in part to be accountable to myself for actually reading the books that I accumulate. 🙂