Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church


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According to Brueggemann , the Hebrew prophets engaged in two types of prophetic speech: the language of grief and lament, in which prophets criticised the old order and pronounced God's judgement upon its death-dealing ways, and the language of hope and amazement, in which the prophets energised their hearers by providing a new alternative vision of God's purposes for church and culture Both languages are essential to the prophetic calling, and if we only preach one of them, we do injustice to the fullness of prophetic witness. On the New Testament front, Brian Blount , who reads the Scripture through the lens of African-American cultural experience, calls upon Christians to reclaim the boundary-breaking, world-upending Jesus in Mark's gospel who proclaims the in-breaking of God's radical reign in his own preaching.

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Blount reminds us of our tendency in the church to domesticate the Jesus of the Scriptures and to fail to recognise that, in Mark's gospel, it was Jesus' own offensive counter-cultural ministry that ultimately led to his suffering and death at the hands of those He had angered - not some foreordained will of God Blount's own preaching - as evidenced in sermons in the book he co-authored with Gary Charles, Preaching Mark in Two Voices - places him solidly in the tradition of other outstanding prophetic African-American preachers who have not hesitated to bring the biblical witness to bear upon the pressing social issues of our day.

Lampooning the principalities and powers: Charles Campbell. Charles Campbell of Duke University reminds us that, in prophetic preaching, we are often going up against the principalities and powers of this world and that one effective way to expose them is through burlesque or lampooning. Campbell sees preaching itself to be a nonviolent act of social protest and calls us to embrace its 'foolishness' boldly, trusting that God still uses preaching to confound the wisdom of this world. In their most recent book, Preaching Fools, Campbell and Johan Cilliers argue that Jesus used this methodology in his own prophetic witness.

Grace as the antidote to fear: Barbara K. In her book Transforming the Stone, Barbara Lundblad, Lutheran professor of homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, turns our attention toward the hearers of prophetic sermons and reminds us that what often lies at the heart of their resistance to prophetic preaching is fear. Because people are fearful, they strive to secure themselves against the shifting sands that surround them:. Build a barrier to keep out immigrants at least, those we do not want.

Remove the homeless from our neighborhoods. Make us safer by legalising the death penalty. Pass the 'Defense of Marriage Act' to protect traditional values. Return to tradition. Silence the voice of feminists. Get back to the Bible. Lundblad Ignoring the fears does not make them go away, Lundblad asserts We as preachers must name and address them. Yet ultimately the most effective antidote to fear is a strong emphasis in our preaching on grace, as Lundblad asserts:.

It is the assurance of grace that provides the ground for transformation. From this grounding the preacher can move on to call for repentance, to urge new behavior or to empower people to risk radical social change - but the starting point is the good news that God's grace has come near. Lundblad offers a number of effective strategies in which preachers can engage in order to 'preach through resistance to change.

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Preaching prophetically in a pastoral way: Leonora Tubbs Tisdale. In my own book Prophetic preaching: A pastoral approach, I address the tensions contemporary pastors encounter between their dual roles as prophets and priests, encouragers and gadflies. Unlike many of the Hebrew prophets of old, contemporary pastors do not have the privilege of drawing a distinction between these two roles of ministry and consequently can find themselves avoiding prophetic preaching - sometimes for pastoral reasons cf.

Tisdale At its heart, this book is an attempt to address the question: How can we preach prophetically in a more pastoral way? The goal is not to water down the two-edged gospel so that it becomes more palatable to our congregations. Rather the aim is to examine the strategies and forms we use in prophetic preaching in order that we as preachers might 1 remove any 'wrong stumbling blocks' a phrase theologian Paul Tillich uses [cf. Tillich ; Tisdale ] we as preachers are putting in the way of our congregations' hearing and responding to God's prophetic Word, and 2 adopt alternative strategies and forms that can help us communicate that prophetic Word more effectively cf.

Tisdale for a detailed discussion of strategies and forms that can be effective in prophetic witness. Ultimately I argue that we do not need to draw a strong divide between preaching that is 'pastoral' and preaching that is 'prophetic. The aim of such preaching is always to build up the body of Christ so that our faith communities might themselves preach - in word and indeed - the whole cutting-edge gospel of God.

Reformation roots of prophetic preaching - USA perspectives. There are a number of significant Reformation themes that are evidenced in the works of the authors cited above, many of which are deserving of a renewed emphasis in contemporary USA church culture. Certainly one such theme is the primacy of grace that comes through in Barbara Lundblad's work. When prophetic preaching is not grounded in grace, it often ends up sounding like works righteousness 'if you truly want to be saved, then you must engage in these particular acts of social justice' or like a harangue in which the preacher takes the congregation to task for its recalcitrance and inaction.

But Luther's reminder via the apostle Paul that all of us are saved solely 'by grace A second theme, reflected in the work of Walter Brueggemann, relates to John Calvin's emphasis on reading and preaching the whole of Scriptures in worship, and not just a portion thereof.

Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church

Calvin is known both for advocating for a lectio continua reading of Scripture in worship that is, reading and preaching through entire books of the Bible as opposed to only preaching selected pericopes in a lectio selecta manner and also for giving greater attention to the reading, hearing and preaching of Old Testament Scripture as well as New Testament Scripture in worship witness his reclamation of psalm-singing in worship, as well as the way in which he preached through entire books of the Old Testament during his ministry in Geneva.

Whilst there have been many wonderful benefits that have come from the adoption of 'lectionary-based' preaching 3 , this trend has also had some detrimental effects.

Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church

A first is that lectio continua preaching is increasingly rare amongst the 'mainline' churches, so that congregations do not have the experience of spending an entire month or season hearing sermons based on one of the prophetic books of the Bible. A second trend is that whilst Old Testament lectionary texts are often read aloud in worship, they are far less regularly preached than New Testament and especially Gospel texts. Whilst this tendency is less common amongst some African-American congregations where a strong identification with the liberation story of the Hebrew people has, in part, led to a love for the Old Testament and its preaching , it is heightened in more highly liturgical church traditions Episcopal, Lutheran, Roman Catholic where the service frequently leads to a celebration of the Eucharist, and the sermon, consequently, tends to have a more Christological and New Testament focus.

Whilst preachers in evangelical and Pentecostal traditions have had the freedom to preach on biblical texts of their choice, many gravitate either toward topical preaching with sermon series structured around particular themes or toward the selection of texts which are deemed to be more 'spiritual' and less 'prophetic' in nature.

Consequently, Calvin's call for a renewed focus on preaching the whole of scripture and Brueggemann's call to the church to reclaim the Hebrew prophets in particular are timely appeals for USA congregations. A third theological theme that emerges amongst these authors is a Reformed emphasis on avoiding idolatry in the life of faith cf. Calvin tells us that the Scriptures are to be the 'spectacles' through which we view the world and discern more clearly what is of God and what is not of God there I:VI.

Certainly if we in the USA look at the history of biblical interpretation around racial issues, women's issues and issues related to homosexuality, we can readily see how that which we have proclaimed as 'truth' in one generation has been confessed to be 'sinful' and 'idolatrous' by the next. We need the priesthood of all believers - and especially the vision of marginal and oppressed members of our faith communities - to help correct our myopic and idolatrous tendencies.

This is where the work of Brian Blount, Charles Campbell, Johan Cilliers and a host of womanist, feminist, two-thirds world and liberation scholars become critical for us. Finally, many of these authors remind us that, in Reformation understanding, preaching has as its goal the forming and reforming of ecclesial identity in the world. We preach prophetically not only so that we as preachers might be more faithful to God and to the witness of Scripture but also so that the 'priesthood of all believers' might be empowered to preach prophetically in word and deed in the world.

I conclude Prophetic Preaching with a chapter entitled 'Word and deed: The integrity of prophetic witness. If we truly believe that it is the church that is called to give prophetic witness and not just the pastor, then sermons on prophetic issues will necessarily call on the entire Christian community to become involved in actions on behalf of God's justice in the world. Barbara Lundblad echoes this theme when she calls for the 'transformation' through preaching of local faith communities and reminds us that such transformation is always a gift of God.

Prophetic preaching and reformation roots - a South African perspective 5. Current visions for prophetic preaching in a South African context. Clowning for change: Johan Cilliers. When Stellenbosch-based professor in homiletics and liturgics, Johan Cilliers , considers some of the great exponents of Reformed theology Calvin, Schleiermacher, Barth, etc.

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As a matter of fact, it is an image that links meaningfully to certain theological topics within this tradition, such as the role of the church as alien and temporary sojourner in this world cf. Like a clown, the church does not fit in.

Its position 'between the times' remains rather precarious and, for some, hilarious. For preachers, this means we should play the fool and by so doing frustrate these powers.

We should juxtapose and thereby jolt the systems. We should subvert and thus shatter the status quo. The tool for doing this is not the sword violence but the word and ultimately, the Word. The preacher stutters the 'unspeakable meaning' of the vulnerable Word in the holy, nonsensical endeavour of preaching, unsettling normative discourse and unmasking and lampooning the pretenders to power.

A theodramatic paradigm for prophetic preaching: Ian Nell. Utilising elements like Hans Urs Von Balthasar's concept of Theo-drama and Kevin Vanhoozer's canonical-linguistic approach to Christian Theology, Stellenbosch-based practical theologian, Ian Nell , cf. Nell further contends that, whilst the Holy Spirit is the primary director who oversees the global production, it is the pastor who bears the primary responsibility for overseeing local performances. The pastor is an assistant director at best, aided in turn by the theologian as dramaturge.

Following the cue of Vanhoozer, the first commandment of the director is seen as obedience to the text. Therefore the analysis of the play is of major importance in directing the process of preaching. In addition, the director has to communicate the interpretation of the script to the actors and audience, train the actors and get them to work together.

In this interaction between the pastor and the other congregational role-players, the local theatre of congregational theology turns into a prophetic community by communicating the meaning of the play through its bodily action. By acting as apprentice to creedal theology, the prophetic preacher in conversation with the congregants helps the local church to understand its role in the light of the universal church.

Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church by Jerry Taylor

Thus one also realises that the local church is not the first company attempting to stage performances from Scripture content. By using the Belhar Confession's 6 underlying theological framework as a guide, Nell singles out 'three acts of the plot' when one accepts the challenge of performing prophetic preaching within a South African context. He calls these three acts 'taking hands' unity , 'embracing each other' reconciliation and 'giving back the bicycle' justice. A hermeneutical approach in the context of poverty: Hennie Pieterse.

Prolific South African researcher in the field of homiletics, Hennie Pieterse, regards preaching in its very essence to be situational and topical. According to Pieterse, it is impossible to ignore the poor in SA context and merely preach about faith as a private, spiritual matter. Prophetic preaching is contextual. Its approach is from the angle of the poor and their need for justice and righteousness Pieterse Referring to insights of liberation theology as documented in works by Leonardo Boff and John De Gruchy and Charles Villa-Vicencio , the Bible is specifically read with a 'preferential option for the poor' Pieterse Translation trans-lation for the purpose of a prophetic sermon is, however, also an interpretation of the text in such a way that its intention is not lost.

One of those people is Milo Razner, a man with big plans and a charming personality that belies a mean streak that sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. And soon after arriving in town, Milo begins to unveil his grand plan to become a respected legitimate businessman while also operating the largest illegal booze running operation around. The Whiskey Run Chronicles is written in individual episodes that are approximately pages long and designed to be read in a single sitting. Readers can expect to see new episodes every month, each one selling for than a dollar, and the series will play itself out from just before Prohibition becomes the law of the land until it is finally repealed in the early s.

The series has all the elements of B. The big cast of supporting characters are well-defined and the dialogue pops off the page. Above all, it is smart and funny, and readers will find themselves rooting for Milo, a villain with a big heart and even bigger ideas about what might be possible when you do everything in your power to give the people what they want. La Negra y Blanca is the crowning achievement of Deena Metzger's lifetime as a novelist, poet, and playwright.

On the surface, it is a meditation on memory as the narrator pieces together the bright flashes of images of her life recalled, piecing them together with the intention of creating a healing matrix that reflects a life lived in search of meaning. On a deeper level, it weaves in the history and tragedy of the Conquest's ongoing political and environmental effects on Latin America through the narrator s relationship with Victor Perera, a Guatemalan-American writer and journalist who documented the destruction of the native Lacandon tribe of Guatemala by imperialistic forces.

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We become acquainted with La Negra, a mysterious woman who is pregnant, but who will not give birth to her child until the world is safe enough for its continued existence, and who is the centerpiece character of a natural world struggling to survive and maintain its integrity in the midst of industrialization and the decimation of the sacred forests. Metzger has created a complex novel that weaves the personal, political, global and spiritual threads of her life into a tapestry of beauty, sorrow, transcendence, and ultimately, the assurance of a world renewed by the unwavering examination of all of its component parts to create a path into a future that promises reverence for all life.

He is one of the organizers of the annual New Wineskins Ministers Retreat. Before accepting his professorship at Abilene Christian University, Dr. Taylor preached at a number of churches and had a ministry working with the poor in Atlanta. While there, he also formed an inner-city ministry team with local college students.

Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church
Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church
Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church
Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church
Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church Courageous Compassion: A Prophetic Homiletic in Service to the Church

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