After 23 years of preaching 50 new sermons a year I have covered almost every New Testament passage at least 5 times. Don't get me wrong, I love preaching and work very hard at it. Sometimes it is hard to find something in the biblical text that is relevant to everyone who comes to worship. Although it has been said that a preacher is not to say anything new--you are charged with enlightening the Word of God, not creating a new word--even making the text assessable and relevant is limited by my own insight.
When one person in a congregation is the sole interpreter of the Word of God in worship you tend to get a "generic interpretation." This generic interpretation comes from an effort to make the Word relevant to "everyone" in worship. Often times "my experience" connects with the needs and experiences of many people in worship. It is safe to say that it never connects with all the needs of people. My experience is limited and my broad reading and media viewing habits are limited to my interests and point of view. Although I make a serious effort to find illustrations and topics that will make the word come alive to people facing certain challenges in life, I certainly miss signficant issues and concerns because I either don't know about the issue or have no insights into how the Bible speaks to those needs.
This is where opening the interpretation process to other people can yield benefits to the whole church. You can help me--and thus help the congregation--expand our understanding of God's word to us today by sharing your interpretations of the text and just as importantly--to help identify topics and issues and experiences that I would otherwise overlook.
The Protestant Reformation tried to make everyone a readers and interprettor of the Bible. The Reormated mantra was "solo scriptura" meaning scripture alone as the pratical guide to all faith and Christian practice. We are supposed to be "reformed and always being reformed" based on the interpreation of the scriptures. Being an interpretor of the Bible is EVERYONES CALLING. This is not just the task of the preacher.
It is hoped that this blog which works three weeks ahead of the sermon--will incorporate some of your insights --and help you as an interpretor and reader of the word.
Let me know what you think.
Peace and joy, James Brassard
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
When you read the Sermon on the Mount you find the most original and timeless insights into the real mind and message of Jesus. This is before the church gets to him and makes him a theological construct instead of a real breathing person.