Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Drama Persists!

A very profound insight on preaching from Willimon.

"Therefore, I think the best preaching from the Bible is that preaching that is evocative, suggestive, and thick, rather than that preaching which, in wooden fashion, merely lays out principles and precepts, abstractions and rules. We pastors are those who are called, in great part, to open up the imagination of our congregations to what is possible and probable now that a creative God is determined to get back what belongs to God. Too often we preachers think that our job is to take a biblical text and narrow the possibilities of that text, force it to speak univocally, and reduce it to the one authoritative, right interpretation. More creative, and perhaps more faithful, biblical interpretation and exhortation seeks to multiply the possibilities, to open up new perspectives, and to help us see something that we would not have seen without the imaginative stimulation of Scripture."

I particularly was interested in his saying that preaching should be evocative, suggestive, and thick, that it should open up the imagination of the congregation. Perhaps we ought to start preaching “fictionally”. Not in a sense that what we have to say is all make-believe but rather that through the words we are drawn to what is beyond the words, letting the biblical narrative breath its ancient wisdom drawing us forever into the fullness of God’s reality through Christ and by the Spirit.

Willimon also said something that interested me as well in regards to how the Church speaks about the time between the times, that is in a "post" biblical context. He notes that too often Christians believe that "the dramatic parts of the Christian story are over; except for some commotion at the end on which it’s best not to dwell." I found this helpful especially as I think about my own denomination as it finds its place in a divided Church, as I wonder about its purpose for existing. We Nazarenes are not a people wandering aimlessly, merely waiting for the end to occur, passing the time by promoting the life of holiness as sort of a hobby. That makes no sense. If we believe we have something to offer the Church catholic (Rome, Orthodox, and Protestant) in regards to holy and faithful living then we need to find ourselves within the tradition, not in a sense that it is their tradition in which we seek to return but in fact that it is our tradition in which we seek to find ourselves faithful. There is hope as the Church seeks to be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic that the dramatic parts of the biblical story do indeed continue today because we people of who the Book gives witness, and witnesses ourselves who give stature to the Book. The Church truly is the living end of God’s work of creation and redemption. The end is here, now, and charging at us in God’s Spirit. The drama persists!


Chuck P said...

Hey Scott,
Ahhhh to be on break and be able to read through blogs again! Thanks for posting this. Man I reaaaaaly dig what Willimon is saying here. The lecture style 5-point thesis sermons are both incredibly boring but also infinitely forgettable. That style does little to evoke our imagination, to bring to life the creativity within us. That style of preaching seems to be tailored to make poeple consent with our own ideas on certian topics/interpretations, whereas an imaginative "thick" and "dramatic" style of preaching seems tailored to lighting fire in people, to encourage people to find their own stories within God's, to help them re-imagine their own world and the possibilities within it in light of the Kingdom of God's Son. Good stuff.

Scott Savage said...


Man, I couldn't put into words how inspired I get to preach when I hear things like this. I am honest enough to know that I need a lot of practice in this, but excited to start.

Also, Willimon has written a book on Barth and Preaching called, not ironically, "Conversations with Barth on Preaching". I hear it's phenomenal.