Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"The Word in Worship: How to Construct a Biblical Sermon"

Chapter 5 “The Word in Worship: How to Construct a Biblical Sermon” pp. 63-75

Willimon approaches sermon construction in a quirky, possibly enigmatic way. I read this chapter and was left slightly uncertain as to his view of the sufficiency of Scripture. He begins by recommending preaching from a lectionary but asserts that the selected texts don’t tend to complement one another, an assertion I find quite false. He suggests that a sermon may be constructed for civic holidays rather than being dependent on biblical themes. He says a  congregation is more receptive of controversial contemporary issues if it thinks the ideas are in the Bible. These are not ideas that reflect a high view of Scripture.

Willimon does make some suggestions for biblical preaching: 1) read the book through, 2) establish the text, 3) do a detailed study (he suggests a word study, though those are rarely useful), 4) look for a main thrust, 5) develop a one-sentence theme, 6) decide on the form of the sermon, 7) decide what the congregation needs. He also points out as pitfalls some interpretive methods. Among them are some methods which SHOULD be used responsibly. But he rightly warns against allegorizing, psychologizing, and moralizing. he finally suggests writing a manuscript, editing carefully, and appearing in the pulpit with only an outline. Some of this may be of some use. Yet depending on one’s comfort with public speaking, many steps can be eliminated.

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