Monday, November 20, 2006

Suggested blog post titles (pick your favorite): “Wah, that’s my sermon!” or “Are you ignorant or just lazy?”

I came across an article in the Wednesday, November 15, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal. The title of the article: Preachers Use Sermons From the Web. I have to say that I was taken aback, first of all, that this article appeared at the very top of the front page. This article has do with the excessive rise of pastors adopting some pretty unorthodox hermeneutics, i.e. the buying and preaching of someone else’s sermon. Most of the article has to do with ethics. It is a question of whether or not the pastor is plagiarizing when he/she preaches from the internet.

My frustration comes not from the sharing of sermons through the Web. I, in fact, carry around a copy of John Chrysostom’s famous Easter homily in my bible … just in case. I am frustrated when I read things like:

“Truth is, there’s no sense reinventing the wheel.”

“If you’ve got something that’s a good product, why go out and beat your head against the
wall and try to come up with it yourself?”

“Don’t be original be effective.”

“We need to get over the idea that we have to be completely original with our messages,
each and every week.”

Has the sermon really entered an “age of re-runs”? Is today’s pastor really this ignorant and lazy? More importantly, I guess, is are we okay with this.

Now, this seems a bit harsh as far as typical a blog post go for me. Usually I am much more sensitive to the misinterpretation and harsh discourse that runs rampant in the blogosphere. In this case, however, I find it absolutely disturbing that pastors are more concerned about being cleared of plagiarism than they are about preaching the goodnews of Jesus Christ.

Our hero in the article, Thomas Long, says, “every minister owes his [or her] congregation a fresh act of interpretation … to play easy with the truth, to be deceptive about where the ideas come from, is a lie.” These pastors are more concerned about the theatrics of “Church” and being motivational speaks (mentioned in the article) than they are about telling the story of God that leads the Church to our true worship of thanksgiving. Long mentions the need for clergy man to be ‘sizzlingly entertaining.’” Seriously? One pastor claimed that in an age where so much information is at our finger tips pastors are at an advantage because better sermons can be preached and distribute. If the same pastor had said I can't write a sermon because I am overloaded with information and am not sure how to sift through it all I might have bought it.

What next? Partaking of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist by watching the food network?

The pastor has been called and gifted by God to receive a particular role in the gathering community. This role, however, is distorted when it becomes centered on the task of preaching. When the Church does not gather to receive the Eucharist and give thanks to God a great many things get distorted on down the line. One of the great things about a word and table service is that we are given the opportunity to expound on a mystery (sermon) in which we can only participate (Eucharist).

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