25 January 2009

The Word in the Moment

You may have noticed I'm not posting sermons anymore. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, a colleague told me a story of how she discovered someone had been plagiarizing her work fairly regularly. While it would be the height of arrogance to think one's own work worthy of plagiarism, I'd still like to avoid the chance it might happen. We preachers work hard at putting together something original each and every week, and frankly, I do have enough selfishness to want to say, "This is my work, and not yours for the taking!" (I also cite my sources when I quote someone else in a sermon, mind you, for exactly the same reason.)

Secondly, I find that my preaching is changing here in campus ministry. While I do still work up a fairly detailed outline most Sundays, there are more occasions when I find myself moving away from the manuscript to engage our community more fully. It seems to me that there is a far greater impact when I can let a student speak the good news through conversational or interrogative preaching. Perhaps I'm merely reflecting the atmosphere in which I'm preaching, but the curious pendulum of my preaching is moving in a different direction at the moment than it did just a year ago. The amount of preparation remains the same: I spend several hours researching texts and working out a theme/thesis every week, and I know precisely where I'm being led on Sunday morning. But the delivery is vastly different than Marty's style pictured above. (The emphasis remains the same, however - both Brother Martin and I are pointing solidly to Christ and Christ alone).

I do hope to begin podcasting my sermons sometime in the near future, but some technical snags are in the way at the moment. A sermon is a curious thing: it is not a story, nor is it a speech, though it bears some resemblance to both. It is a product of its moment in time and in the intimate knowledge the preacher should have regarding his or her hearers. And I use the word "hearers" on purpose: we are more than audience or listeners when we gather for proclamation. A sermon is a doing of God's word, in the moment, and reading a text on the internet is not a sermon. I'm hoping that a podcast might better capture the Word in its moment, doing what it says, and I hope it's helpful - beyond that, I remain a humble servant, amazed that I still get the privilege of preaching God's Word.

Now, since it's after the Sunday morning hustle, and the girls are asleep, I'm off to my Sabbath rest. Peace, everyone.



  1. Yup...plagiarism is why you'll seldom see mine any more.

    And when I was posting them on the church's website, I had a HUGE disclaimer on the page header reminding people that reading them is not the same as experiencing them in the context of worship.

  2. You were the one, Cheese - thanks for the tip.

    The disclaimer would be a good idea - I might add that as a header to the podcast if I ever get that far.