Preaching in the First Person

So…it seems that from time to time I feel the need to put a disclaimer on the sermon that I post, and this is yet another of those times. The reason is that I believe that the act and art of preaching is a very in-the-moment kind of thing. One of my preaching professors wrote his dissertation about how preaching is not just the act of the preacher proclaiming the word, but also the act of the congregation as they listen and react, and the Holy Spirit that works in each of them as they join together in worship. So while I love to post my sermons I also recognize that there is something about being in the context of worship that alters in some way the experience of the proclaimed Word.

The sermon below is one of those that is even more of an altered experience, since it is written as a first person monologue from the point of view of Mary Magdalene. So for people who were not in worship with us this morning you should know a few things. This particular sermon was delivered by a person (me) in costume, dressed as the biblical Mary. That person was not present for any other part of the service. There was no transition from pastor to biblical character. The text was entirely memorized. The sermon started with the first line of the text below and ended with the trinitarian amen. I tell you all this only to give you a sense of the context within worship, because it might help to imagine…

I hope it was as fun to experience as it was to preach. Thank God for the Holy Spirit at work!

I should also say something more about creativity in worship… I hope and believe that I always preach biblical sermons. I start with the text and then go from there, but I also believe that for many (especially for those who grew up in the church), the stories in the bible need to be told through new and creative ways. They need to feel fresh and inspiring again. While I most often preach a “straightforward” sermon, I think it is also important to play with the form and format of my sermons. To try out new styles and text my creativity. Sometimes taking those creative risks takes me farther from the text that I would normally go. Since I don’t do it often, I find it to be a worthwhile risk. As always – I take these risk with a strong dose of prayer and belief that the Holy Spirit is present in the preached word in ways I cannot control or explain. Thanks be to God.

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