Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"You don't preach right!"

My seminary classmate Steve Heyduck's blog post really is a helpful conversation starter.
Let me quote it, and then we can start the conversation (either here, or on his blog--giving his great blog some PR).

I will tell you a story after Steve's post. I'll address my comments to Steve, but they are for all of you.


by Steve Heyduck

“You didn’t begin your sermon with the reading of the scripture text. You are always supposed to read the scripture as the beginning of your sermon.”
This is a very close approximation to something a colleague of mine was told recently.  This colleague is soon to go before the Board of Ordained Ministry for commissioning – a major step towards ordination.
Part of the qualifying process is submission of a sermon – both manuscript and video recording.
My colleague asked for my insights as to whether such a particularity could, in fact, derail his quest.
I shared that I cannot remember the last time I read the scripture text as the beginning of my sermon.
For me, anyway, this rarely if ever happens in part because our liturgist reads one of our texts immediately before I stand to preach.  Re-reading the scripture myself would give in to the notion that preaching is not really a part of the worship service as a whole, but rather a stand-alone event thrown into the midst of a worship service.
I encouraged my colleague to continue to preach the Word, and to preach the text for the service, whether or not that scripture text was written into the sermon.
A much larger concern for me is that someone would suggest so simple a component done differently would disqualify a sermon altogether.  What I think really happened was an incident of either
  1. “You didn’t preach the way I was taught to preach” or
  2. “You didn’t preach the way I like to hear someone preach.
Are there specific mechanics that you believe are absolutely essential to the successful preaching of a sermon? Do Jesus’ and Peter’s and Paul’s preaching always follow your rules?  link
Fantastic post.
It triggered a memory I had buried.
Once, a parishoner took me out to lunch.
You know how that is: you never know if there is an agenda.
Sometimes taking you to lunch is taking you to the woodshed. (:

He cut to the chase:
"I have noticed that sometimes you open a sermon with a story, and THEN you pray."
This of course implied that everyone knows the "correct" way is to pray at the very outset, and THEN start preaching.
I assured him that yes, I had actually done this on purpose.
He was stunned.
I have always varied it a little.  Or a lot.
In fact, if the transcript is accurate, here is one I preached without an official prayer (gasp!)
Sometimes I have read the Scripture pretty late in the game.
Might that sometimes be more biblical?

I wonder what my well-meaning parishoner would think of Jesus' sermons ...or ANY sermons in the Bible.
I can't think of any that started with a prayer...OR the  text!
I remember a college professor, Al Dueck, once suggested that you could wait until the very end to even reveal what Scriptural text you were preaching on.  I was intrigued.  I will tag him on Facebook to see if he remembers saying that, or has examples of doing it.

What's up with the Idolatry of Form?
Steve, did you ever have a class at Asbury Seminary with Ralph Lewis on "inductive preaching"?  Poor guy was called a heretic by some just because he believed you could save your Scripture reading for mid-sermon!
BTW, I love how you prayed in this sermon below.
But..heresy alert, you actually spoke for a minute before you prayed! (:

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!