Preaching as the Proclaimed Word–Day 4

This morning was a sermon form workshop and a discussion about materials we use in the pulpit.

Sermon Form Workshop

The sermon form workshop walked us through common shapes, movements for sermons. Lowry’s Loop, Law/Promise Four Pages, Buttrick’s Moves, Antithesis-Thesis-Synthesis and others.

Thomas Long in Witness of Preaching, wrote about Focus, Function, and Form: The Focus of the sermon is what we are saying. The Function is why we are speaking. The Form is the how we are speaking.

When does the form of the sermon enter into the process of crafting the sermon? If we start with a form then we may end up forcing a particular text into a form that does not match the movements in the text. If we never focus on the form of the sermon the the listener has to do more work to follow what we are saying. The form of the sermon, the shape of the movements from one section to another, helps the listener know where we are going.

The form can be brought tightly to the sermon during the rewrite phase of crafting the sermon.

Absent of form the listener will have no clarity markers to help find meaning and place in the sermon.

Pulpit Materials

The manuscript or any other notes that are brought into the pulpit should support the pastor in preaching. There is no requirement that the notes be understandable to anyone else besides the one preaching. Notes, highlighting, scribbles, spaces between words and other marks on the page will help the eye sweep across the page and bring emphasis to what is important.

I take away from today’s lectures the need to do more rewriting and focus in advance where I will look and how I will move.

Karoline Lewis pointed out that when practicing the presentation of the sermon we should include the pauses.

I remember Kyle Small pointing out the coolest pulpit. It was especially designed for an iPad. I don’t know if I am ready to preach with my iPad in the pulpit. For me it is not about the technology but more about how I am so used to writing out my sermon notes long hand and then marking them up with memory aids. I don’t know if the same kind of markings that I am familiar with could translate to a script on an iPad.

Sermon Presentations

In the afternoon we took turns presenting two paragraph sermon demonstrations. I studied a text from September 18 that I will likely preach. In these two summary paragraphs I focused on word sounds and images that shared with the listener an encounter with the Word of God.

Here are the two paragraphs I shared about Philippians 1:12-15

How does the Gospel of Jesus Christ advance in this world? Is Jesus free to go anywhere he wants? He wants to go into the flesh, he goes. He wants to go onto the forgotten side street with the lepers, he goes. He wants to go stand with a scandalized woman caught in adultery, he goes. He wants to eat reclining at the table with tax collectors and sinners, he goes. He wants to deliver you to the promise of life, betrayed, crucified, buried, resurrected, he goes. With his promise filled life he goes, for you.

Whether fully free or cruelly in chains, Paul is sharing this Jesus. In his incarceration, Paul celebrates the movement of the gospel. Christ has marvelously moved amidst the imperial guard. Christ has moved through the chains to the hearts. Christ has moved. He has moved through the chains to the lives of the people. Brothers and sisters we are bold to speak. Some of us speak with love to share Jesus. Some of us, choking with envy and rivalry, share Jesus. In our love Christ can be heard. Thank God Almighty Christ can be heard even in our envy, even in our chains. Christ will be heard in that forgotten side street. Christ will be heard with that woman. Christ will be heard at that dinner table. Christ will be heard in the chains. I hear the chains. Do you hear the change? Do you hear the change of the hearts? I hear Jesus, I hear the chains, I hear the change as Christ marvelously moves amidst us in our chains.

Chains and change sound familiar. It was suggested that with my hands I help bring the contrasting words into the eyes of the people. I want to keep these two similar sounding words because I want to demonstrate that the change of Christ happens in the midst of our chains. But I will have to focus on how I speak these words with my mouth and shape them with my hands.


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