Sunday, 13 March 2011

On Re-reading Brueggemann

Just been re-reading the introduction to Finally Comes the Poet in preparation for tomorrow's homiletics class when we'll be looking at preaching, poetry and imagination.  I'd forgotten just how good it is.

Walter Brueggemann's writing about preaching does for the preacher what he suggests the preacher should be doing for the congregation.  This is truly poetic, visionary, prophetic writing construing the preacher as a wielder of words and spinner of worlds potently prophesying.   At times his vision might sound unrealistic, too fantastical for the mundane reality of Sunday by Sunday sermonising.  But that's the point.  Here is inspiration, here are words to thrill, an evocation of the possibilities of the sermon daring the preacher to believe.  Thanks Walt.

If you get to preach but haven't read it, do yourself favour, treat yourself.  If you have read it, do yourself a flavour, remind yourself.  Here's how he ends his intro, wrapping up, or rather unwrapping still further, what he's had to say about the sermon as a four way coming together of text, people, preacher and eye popping Holy Spirit.

The meeting involves this old text, the spent congregation believing but impoverished, the artist of new possibility, the disclosure.  The Prince of Darkness tries frantically to keep the world closed so that we can be administered.  The Prince has such powerful allies in this age.  Against such enormous odds, however, there is the working of this feeble inscrutable, unshackled moment of the sermon.  Sometimes the Prince will win the day and there is no new thing uttered or heard.  Sometimes, however, the sermon will have its say and the truth looks large - larger than the text or the voice or the folk had any reason to expect.  When that happens, the world is set loose toward healing.  The sermon for such a time shames the Prince and we become yet again more nearly human.  The Author of the text laughs in delight, the way that Author has laughed only at creation and at Easter but laughs again when the sermon carries the day against the prose of the Dark Prince who wants no new poetry in the region he things he governs.  Where the poetry is sounded the Prince knows a little of the territory has been lost to its true Ruler.  The newly claimed territory becomes a new home of freedom, justice, peace, and abiding joy.  This happens when the poet comes, when the poet speaks, when the preacher comes as poet.

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