When Mary gazes gently at us from statues, paintings, and icons, what do we see? How do we understand her? Perhaps there's more to Mary than her "meek and mild" representations suggest.
With three sermons to preach in two days, Christmas weekend will demand a lot this year. By starting now, you can ensure you finish without the scramble of last-minute preparations. Check out our guide to find practical ideas to plan and preach creatively for less stress this preaching-intensive season.
Perhaps many of us don't need Dr. Johansen to tell us what already looks to be a frightening and chaotic world is only going to get worse.
What may be more surprising is to hear Dr. Johansen's outline for a counter-narrative: hope. The upside, he says, is that this time of chaos is fertile ground for creativity, innovation, and a world that can become better than it is now.
So how do preachers participate in this counter-narrative?
Why does a Gospel text bother us?
That’s the essential question when confronted with a text we don’t like. The essential answer is this:
The text bothers us because it conflicts with our understanding of God.
Jesus doesn’t always speak or act consistently with our faith.
So how do you find the sermon message when dealing with Gospel texts where Jesus frustrates, disappoints, or makes you nervous? This 8-step process examines the backstory of your faith so you can name your theology, identify the apparent inconsistencies in the text, and then bridge the gap between them.
Maybe you want it revealed. Maybe you don't.
Regardless, it's on display in every sermon.
What am I talking about? Your backstory.
Your backstory is the story you tell in your sermons without "telling" it. It seeps into your sermons whether or not you say the word, "I."
Your backstory is the unique mixture of your theology, childhood, DNA, education, church experience, personality, political persuasion, and so much more. It affects how you approach the Sunday's scriptures, influences your conclusions about them, and shapes your style and the purpose for which you preach.
To preach the message you intend to preach, consider these three aspects of your backstory to help you use your backstory in service to your preaching.