In comparison to this musical tradition, it occurs to me that we preachers got it plum easy. We have the luxury of extensive preparation before delivering a sermon: hours of research on the exegesis of the biblical passage; consideration of what others have said about the text, and the sermon topic; time to rehearse the delivery of the sermon; and so on and so forth. It also occurs to me, however, that it is easy for this process of sermon crafting to become mechanical and impersonal, and lose the possibility of a spontaneous and heartfelt response of faith to the topic at hand.
And this can be huge. If you are a fan of Jazz music, you know how powerful, penetrating, and inspiring improvisation can be. And one can readily imagine how moving were the songs in the sperichil tradition. Who knows? Maybe it’s the lack of improvisation and spontaneity that dooms many sermons to be dry, detached, impersonal, and – let’s face it – boring… Did I forget to mention boring?
This Sunday @ OPCC, we will make a concerted effort to give spontaneity and improvisation free reign in the sermon, in the hope that unfettered faith might just have something significant to share with us. So please peruse the gospel reading below, meditate on its meaning, and come Sunday prepared to pose questions about its nature and significance. You will have the opportunity to submit your question, and the sermon will consist of faith’s response to these questions. This will not be an occasion to stump the preacher, to show her or him up by posing really difficult questions; rather, this will be an opportunity to let the sincere voice of faith speak. It may not be polished, it may not be eloquent, but we can hope it will be authentic.
Oh, and by the way, if you can please get your questions to me by Saturday afternoon…
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
- Matthew 16.13-20