Matt pointed out to me last night that I haven't written anything interesting in ages, other than vignettes of family life and vacation and this and that. Point well taken. I haven't really had much of a mind for anything lately. At his, Matt's, behest I have tried to lay aside the endless stacks of PG Wodehouse novels (to which I have been devoting myself utterly and completely) and read a book on preaching, expository preaching to be exact. It is actually an excellent book, when I can read more than three lines without falling asleep. So far it varies from my seminary education in one major way-namely, that the preacher's exegetical work should stick out in the text of the sermon, so that everyone can see it, rather than being worked seamlessly into the sermon's own 'narrative'. The author (hang it all, I can't remember his name, and I'm too pudgy to get off the couch at this particular moment and find the book; I'll try and post it later) believes that the hearer of the sermon, over time, should be trained to be able to test and evaluate the preacher's exegesis themselves, because it is evident in the sermon itself. This approach does move the sermon over and out of the camp of 'experiencing a narrative moment' (what I have heard called "The Preach Moment" (if this doesn't alarm you, nothing else I can say will) and into one of 'teaching', which is, frankly, not at all a bad thing given the state of most Episcopal churches in America today. Every Sunday an empty experience that makes the hearer feel like they've been fed, when, in fact, there was nothing there. On the whole I agree entirely and am even determined to finish the book.
However, it saddens me that things have gotten so bad in the church that I would have to let go of my beloved narrative poetical sermon style. I'm good at it, I'll be honest. I love the process of study and writing and the narrative that emerges. I was considered a fantastic preacher in seminary and my ego grew accordingly. It can be a beautiful experience, both to write and to hear a narrative style sermon and I've been fed by the real substantial narrative preaching of some Episcopal priests who were good at this model. However, it really doesn't work in the ordinary life of the parish. Its too wispy. I've become wispy, I think, in my preaching. It can't all be blamed on the style, of course, I keep having babies instead of doing good solid exegesis, but that is certainly part of it. The church needs more substance, and needs to be able to check the preacher's work against the Scriptures, and needs to be involved in the process of the sermon itself. It has reached, practically, crisis proportions.
Never the less, letting that go and moving onto the greater and weightier task of expository preaching, in the wake of Matt who is, frankly, getting to be excellent at it, will be my task once I have regained some serious lung space and gotten some good sleep. I will keep you posted as to how it goes.