Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"Nothing but Joy"

Here is a sermon on James 1:1-21, one of several I have preached on the same text and by the same title. This one was preached on Memorial Day Sunday, 2016, at Second Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, IN. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

More relevant than ever

When I wrote this experimental sermon back in 1997, I little expected it would continue to grow more relevant with every passing year, and in recent years, exponentially so.

   

Someone should write a study guide to go with it, with lessons focussing on (1) the role of grief/weeping in the Christian life, (2) the experience of exile/loss, (3) nonjudgmental listening, (4) pain relief/medication/pharmaceuticals/drugs abuse, (5) music/harp therapy, and (6) the psalms as refuge. That's just off the top of my head, but those six themes sound rather conducive to a Lenten series. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Waste Not the Fragments: A Commentary for Year D (Advent)

A number of exegetical essays that have been residing here for some time, along with previously unpublished matter, all of it related to texts suggested for Advent, have just been published in the following commentary. Perhaps this Advent is the time to introduce your congregation, Bible study group, or adult Sunday school class to these rich texts, extend their scriptural foundations, and supplement their spiritual diet.


Spread the word!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Best Christmas story you have never read


Every year just a few more people find their way to this little Christmas storybook, but it awaits discovery by a much larger readership. You are most welcome to spread the word any way you can: buy it in bulk, give it as a gift or an upscale "card," mention it in lists and slideshows featuring best Christmas stories or books, adapt it for your pageant, etc. It's one little way to remind people "what Christmas is all about," to coin a phrase. God bless you, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Errata Corrected

This is to document the recent correction of several errata in the first pressings of Johannes Oecolampadius (1482—1531), Sermons on the First Epistle of John (A Handbook for the Christian Life). In addition to a number of spelling corrections, two dates on p. 5 were off by a factor of ten: JO matriculated in Tübingen in 1513, not 1523, and he left Tübingen in the summer of 1514, not 1524. [Apologies to Jeff Fisher for introducing this error into a quotation taken from his fine work.] Also, on p. 9, I have changed "John Chrysostom" to "the Greek Fathers", and after "the sermons of Chrysostom," inserted the phrase, "begun in Mainz," which is more accurate. The influence of Chrysostom on JO is undoubtedly the most decisive, but as Staehelin's reconstruction makes clear at several points, it is only in Mainz that JO's work on this particular Greek Father begins. Any copies of this translation ordered after November 16, 2018 will reflect these most recent corrections. Anyone with earlier copies may wish to pencil in these corrections.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Intergenerational Sermons

A speaker I heard last evening, a representative of my denomination, seems to think sermons should be jettisoned in order to make worship more conducive to intergenerational experience. This was not an offhand comment, but is apparently a regular feature of this talk which he takes on the road. According to his reasoning, since the sermon is the element that children cannot endure and often becomes the reason for their dismissal, we should get rid of the sermon. No thought given to what might make the sermon more intergenerational. No thought given to what God might have at stake or be doing in the sermon. No thought given to what the Bible has to say about preaching. No reference that I can recall even to the presence of God in worship. While I am all for keeping children in worship and fostering intergenerational church, I find this attack on the sermon (which included a direct attack on the children's sermon), let us say, weighed and found wanting, to put it as mildly as possible.


Meanwhile, here are a couple of humble attempts at intergenerational sermons (both in the narrative mode) that, after being shopped to numerous publishers, were finally self-published, since envisioning an intergenerational audience fails every acquisitions editor's first test, which is that the author has clearly defined a very specific audience and written everything directly for that level of cognitive development and that particular context.


          

Also, here is a recently reprinted denominational publication from the late 19th c., which advocates for the children's sermon and includes sixteen such sermons from the period that should challenge any notion that we are able to clearly define or sector discrete levels of cognitive development. In short, just as adults can read, enjoy, and be formed by children's literature, these sermons too can be read with formational value by an intergenerational readership.

 



Monday, April 9, 2018

Farewell to FaceBook

Readers of this blog may wish to note that all related FB pages have been deleted in recent weeks, with my main personal FB page finally deactivated today.  

The Children's Sermon

This simple, classic treatment of The Children's Sermon, by the Rev. John C. Hill, was published in 1882 just before he and his wife left their parish in NY and embarked on a four-year missionary journey to Guatemala. Here it is, newly reissued with just the briefest explanation from the author and sixteen short, but substantial, sermons—substantial in that they actually "preach" in a way that children's sermons today frequently fail to do. This fresh reprint of a historical denominational publication comes with a short introduction for preachers from yours truly.