Redacted from WorkingPreacher.org
“Resolution” is a word of many meanings that range from descriptions of certain chemical processes to the satisfying sense of closure one feels at the end of a chordal progression in Bach.
January has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to what lies ahead. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and, more importantly though less frequently, to resolve to follow through on those changes.
As I thought about my own preaching I came up with the following reflections, couched in the form of those “other” resolutions. They are intentionally cynical, curmudgeonly, and self-serving, and, in the words of that inimitable portrayer of truth and reality, Rod Serling, “submitted for your approval …”
Resolution 1: “It’s Greek to Them”
WHEREAS, congregations tend to be less proficient in the biblical languages than their pastors, negligible though the pastor’s knowledge may be; and
WHEREAS, exegetical exploitation of such secret knowledge is morally reprehensible; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we will no longer suggest that “tithe” really means “25 percent”
Resolution 2: “Size Does Matter”
WHEREAS, good preaching is enhanced by the careful crafting of engaging introductions; and
WHEREAS, absolution, encouragement, or admonition, as appropriate, is the primary goal of the homiletical task; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we will endeavor to keep said introductions and conclusions as close together as possible.
Resolution 3: “Ab-solution”
WHEREAS, the time and energy demands of so-called kingdom work make exercise and healthy eating difficult, if not impossible for preachers; and
WHEREAS, the latest medical findings have established a direct relationship between abdominal girth and several insalubrious conditions; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we will endeavor to keep the size of our respective “pulpit bumpers” within healthy limits. Those who subscribe to an ethic of WWJD need only check out the abs on any crucifix.
Resolution 4: “WP3″
WHEREAS, contemporary investigations of the New Testament increasingly point out the essentially rhetorical nature of the biblical witness; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we will strive to grow in our rhetorical skills and seek to persuade our congregations through carefully considered argumentation, both inductive and deductive, winsomely illustrated with anecdotal panache beyond the tried and true (though somewhat ham-fisted) homiletical tactic of WP3 which, being translated means “weak point: pound pulpit.”
Resolution 5: “Antiperspirant”
WHEREAS, God told Adam that the fruit of one’s labors should arise out of the sweat of one’s face (Gen 3:19); and
WHEREAS, we, as Adam’s children continue to toil under the same injunction; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we will share the fruit, not the sweat; and no longer belabor our congregations with the trials and vicissitudes of the exegetical process including, but not restricted to: imaginative historical reconstructions of the acne that plagued Jacob’s uncle and father- in-law (or whatever Sitz im Leben refers to), chiastic or any other patterns, structures, or literary architectures, apparently done with mirrors, word studies deriving Paul’s understanding of “faith” from whatever the first Greek Cro-Magnon to utter “pistis” meant, and anything found in Matthew Henry’s commentaries on the internet.
Resolution 6: “Less is More”
WHEREAS, the form, genre, and rhetorical shaping of the sermon is crucial for providing, developing, and maintaining the sharp focus needed for compelling proclamation; and
WHEREAS, we apparently take in with our mother’s milk the mistaken idea that sermons must have three points, preferably presented seriatim, identified with catchwords that begin with the same letter of the alphabet, and illustrated with elaborate (and often functioning) PowerPoint presentations replete with quotes out of context, multi-media staging, and fine art filched from Google Images; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that in the midst of such relevance, our sermons will have, and strive to make, at least one point.
Resolution 7: “Crucial-fiction”
WHEREAS, St. Paul was determined to know nothing among us except Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2); and
WHEREAS, we feel strangely compelled to provide homiletical comment upon Harry Potter, Desperate Housewives, whoever was just voted off American Idol, the adorable antics of our children and grandchildren, or lacking these, neighbors, spouses, or pets; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that, in the wise words of homiletician and rhetor Gracia Grindal, we will constantly ask ourselves “Why did Jesus have to die for me to say this?”