Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum of this unit, share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous session showing up in your lives.

One of our church’s interim supply priests, Barb, asked me if I wanted to preach one Sunday next February. For some economic and some demographic reasons our small Episcopalian parish is enduring a years-long interim between Rectors. While this is challenging and uncomfortable in many ways, it presents opportunities for ministry models like lay preaching to emerge at our parish.

I accepted Barb’s offer. I’ve never thought much about delivering a sermon, other than to listen carefully to each Sunday’s message. That changed once I accepted Barb’s invitation to give rather than receive the message next February 12th. Even as I feel responsible for preparing thoroughly, I also feel a joyful, if inchoate, sense of anticipation. I could be uneasy anticipating the ‘big event,’ but I’m looking forward to it.

I recognize the need for thorough preparation before preaching. Our parish requires lay preachers to complete certain licensing requirements with the Diocese. I’m reviewing what it means to read scripture through the eyes of the Forgiving Victim, our living interpretive principle. Barb gave me a book titled, appositely: Preaching, by Fred B. Craddock. http://bit.ly/2g3Cb6y I like what Craddock writes in the introduction:

“… the preaching moment occurs at the intersection of tradition, Scripture, the experience of the preacher, the needs of a particular group of listeners, and the condition of the world as it bears upon that time and place.”

and this:

“The sermon is not one person’s self-disclosure any more than theology is taking one’s pulse to see how one feels about a matter. Rather, the preacher voices the message of the community of faith articulates it to that community and from that community to the world.”