This morning I began reading Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope by Walter Brueggemann.
I came across this anecdote I wanted to pass along:
“I recently gave some lectures at Baldwin-Wallace College. The lectures were endowed by a very generous family that is concerned that religion should be prominent in the life of the college. Two sons of the original donor, enterprising, gracious businessmen, attended the lecture in which I did a biblical critique of capitalism. The task was not easy. It turned out all right, however because all that was noticed by the appreciative donors was that I had quoted lots of the Bible. The rest was happily lost on them.”
How often is this the response to prophetic and powerful preaching?
The preaching act should change us. The Word spoken and expounded should transform us. It should enlighten us to God’s message and mission to the world and our lives should be conformed to the messages of good, prophetic, Holy-Spirit-inspired sermons. I believe this. I would not have the courage and the fear to get up and preach each Sunday if I didn’t.
Too often we imbibe sermons with our own heavy filters. We filter through the deep meaning of the message and partake of that which supports and fulfills our self and our conception of faith. Not nearly often enough do we enter worship and the preaching event with open hearts and ears, open and ready to be transformed by the word of God spoken and expounded.
Brueggemann goes on to say, “I understand the moment of preaching, in the designated place of preaching, to be a freeing and primitive act that flies in the face of all our accepted certitudes, conservative and liberal.”
As you go to church this Sunday and listen to your pastor’s best or not so best efforts to Preach the word of God to your community of faith, Approach worship and the preaching event as a freeing and primitive act; able and capable and probable to transform your life. To free all of us from theological misconceptions, or scriptural misinterpretations, and unhealthy faith practices. To free us from the entanglement of our politics and our faith, to free us from our prejudices and discriminations and to free us to follow the Gospel of Jesus and not the gospel according to ourselves.
Do not fall into the habit of hearing the preaching event. Condition your ears to hear anew the Truth each week, even if the preacher of said truth struggles to do so effectively. Forgive him/her their shortcomings and look beyond them to their message.
Dare to be freed by this primitive act.