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When We Preach

I spent time this week listening to and speaking with passionate preachers from across my denomination at the annual preaching conference hosted by Nazarene Theological Seminary. I’m overwhelmed by how good it is to be among that tribe of peculiar people who are called to preach and dedicated to the craft of the sermon. Here are a few of the ways I’m currently thinking about my own call and craft.

When we preach, we trust that the creator God creatively shows up, that the fiery Spirit of Pentecost speaks, that the living Word is mysteriously incarnate yet again.

When we preach, we remember the pulpit is always too big for us, and the task is always impossible for us. Thank God preaching is never about us, but about the word and work of God.

When we preach, God is always the hero of the story. We ask of every text we approach: “Who is God? Who are we as God's people? How then do we live in light of who God is and who we are as God’s people?”

When we preach, we proclaim the incarnation, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus. When we preach, we’re always proclaiming the mystery of the faith: Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ is coming again.

When we preach, we proclaim that we, the Church, are Christ’s Body, and we proclaim this not only with words but with sacrament, enacting the way we too are taken and blessed and broken and given out for the hope of the world.

When we preach, we declare that God who is rich in grace and mercy, abounding in love and faithfulness, always finds us, continuously transforms us, persistently sends us out.

When we preach, we take care to carve out a safe space for people to encounter the dangerous gospel message that will wreak healthy havoc-- good trouble-- in their lives.

When we preach, we spark in our people’s imaginations a glimpse of what is possible with God: weapons of war turned into garden tools, a scandalously broad dinner party invitation that gets everyone to the table, a tide of renewal sweeping in like a fire and a flood.

When we preach through the Church Year, we're caught up in the whole story of God making all things new not just then and there in those ancient places or somewhere and somehow in the future, but here and now in our very own hearts and lives.

When we preach through the Church year, we see the integration of the story of God and the story of God’s people. So when we preach through Advent, we affirm this season is as much about Christ's Incarnation as it is about God's people waiting (then and now) for incarnational transformation. And then when we preach through Kingdomtide, we affirm this season is as much about God's people on mission as it is about the God whose mission is making all things new, the King to whose Kingdom we belong.

When we preach through the Church Year, we invite people into a different time, a syncopated rhythm, a distinctive imagination; and the more we keep that different kind of time, the more we find a renewed identity and a renewed reality.

When we preach through the Church Year, we submit to a counter-cultural calendar, a revolutionary way of timekeeping, living into the already/not-yet Kingdom of God.

When we preach, we bring good news. Thanks be to God.

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