Most sermons I preached while in seminary sounded like theology papers. I regret this. Sermons like the one I preached on the theology of the Lord’s Supper for Open Door had lots of head-knowledge, but little power to transform the heart. Now we’re doing Sunday evening house-church services for The Upper Room (7:30pm at my house, email me for directions), and I’m having to rethink how I preach, not only making it less academic, but struggling to find a way to talk “with” rather than “at” a bunch of people in my living room.
As a creative writing major in college, I used to write a lot of poetry. Most poems I wrote started with a line or phrase that then inspired the rest of the poem. For example, a phrase would come to me like “spin swirling sounds” and I would then spin it out into a longer poem with imagery and alliteration. As the poem grew, the sound and art of that first line guided all the other steps in writing.
This week I tried to write my homily in the same way. I still did the exegesis and all that fun stuff, but rather than write an academic lecture-style sermon, I’m attempting to be more image-driven. The images are coming from Isaiah 55:10-11 and John 7:37-39, focusing on water as it provides for new growth and life. There’s still historical information in it, but it constantly turns back to the imagery of water and new growth. I hope to post an mp3 or transcript after tomorrow.