Again from Willimon:

“Besides, there are excellent reasons why we don’t communicate.  People bring many things with them in their listening to a sermon.  Having been preconditioned, their ears are not in tune with the message; their understanding is blocked by metaphors that enable them to participate in the culture but that make it difficult for them to hear the gospel.  We evangelists ought to throw the mantle of forgiveness over some of our homiletical failures.  Desiring too desperately to communicate, at any cost, can lead us into apostasy.  The odd was in which God has saved us presents a never ending challenge to those who are called to talk about it.” –The Intrusive Word, 18

As I have thought about it, one immense pressure that piles onto preachers is to be heard.  I think this comes with the territory of where the churches place in prevailing society is.  As Willimon notes the people are preconditioned with certain metaphors that make it difficult if not impossible to hear the gospel.  In many cases those same metaphors become instrumental in the preaching of the church to communicate rather than being thrown out as harmful and unnecessary for the proclamation of the Gospel.  Just what those metaphors are is sometimes difficult to perceive, at least in my own case they can be difficult.  This using of the cultural metaphor to communicate more clearly then leads, as Willimon accurately points out, to apostasy.  Having abandoned what you stand on and for in hopes to communicate, now nothing stands.

This statement from Willimon also helps shape what the preaching task and preacher are to be like, in my opinion.  Since the desire for homileitcal creativity begins to pass away and the preacher begins wondering just how it is that Jesus in His Kingdom began adjusting the World and sinners to fit the righteousness of the Kingdom he was bringing about?  We realize He did it through speaking.  He did it through doing election and making righteous.  He forgave and healed and calmed and raised and by doing he was bearing Sin and making righteous.  This then moves the preacher to the exact places where these things happen to people.  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  These not only become the places where the Lord is forgiving sin but bringing the hearer into something other.  Changing the way things once were.  Placing the hearer into the middle of a new hermeneutic.  The preachers challenge is to no more wrestle with the metaphors of society in hopes to communicate to a people in their grasp, but to destroy those metaphors at all cost with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper which are now the Truth of Life and place metaphor aside.  Not only does this move the preacher to the Sacraments it makes the very act of preaching a sacrament itself I think.  Preaching is not only giving the benefit of the sacrament but it also assumes a Sacramental Vocabulary.

The Sacraments are the great places where the preached MUST STOP using any kind of societal metaphor and speak for God, and let God be God.

 

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