Monday, June 13 started a new week for my classes at Luther Seminary. I am working towards a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Preaching. In this program the second week of the three weeks of classes is an elective. There were three choices and I selected a class about preaching the stories of the New Testament with a special emphasis on the book of Acts. The program is set up into cohorts, a group of students that track through the program together. So on campus this June are three cohorts. The three cohorts match with the three years of residency in the program. The cohorts take the first and third week of classes together. The second week all three cohorts mingle in the electives. So it is nice to meet different people and hear different people preach. Interestingly one guy in my class this week officiated ten years ago at the wedding of a couple people that I went to college with.
The first class Dr. Matthew Skinner introduced the importance of letting the story stand on its own. We don’t read the New Testament stories to find truths that can be pulled from the story. So we discuss the character of a story and specifically the unique form of the four gospels and Acts.
There is nothing very profound in identifying the power of the narrative form, except that Scripture is often used for truths and then set aside. Imagine a sermon that starts with the parable of the prodigal son and then quickly leaves the story to develop a three point outline about financial stewardship in the Christian church. I scratch my head and wonder what happened to our trust in the Word of God to transform our lives. It is time to reclaim the retelling of the narratives of God and find how in the story that God is telling I can understand my own story.
Ask, “What is God doing in this text?”
Then ask , “What is God doing in my life?”
Answer the second question in light of your experience in finding the textures of the text. The answer about your own life will be enlivened by finding the life and promise of God richly revealed in the words of Scripture.