I’ve continued with my wonderfully-safe habit of driving while reading (hey, no accidents yet) for the past week, and this has helped me with my desire to get through some books. I finished Barbara Brown Taylor’s The Preaching Life today, and it’s definitely one I’ll read again and keep for awhile. She writes beautifully, tells wonderful stories and shares a lot about, well, the preaching life. She talks a lot about the role of the congregation in preaching. She writes:
“…preaching becomes something the whole community participates in…If the preaching they hear is effective, it will not hand them sacks of wisdom and advice to take home and consume during the week, but invite them into the field to harvest those fruits for themselves, until they become preachers in their own right…….
“Preaching is not something an ordained minister does for fifteen minutes on Sundays, but what the whole congregation does all week long; it is a way of approaching the world, and of gleaning God’s presence there.”
Some other wonderful quotes I enjoyed from the book:
“If my own experience can be trusted, then God does not call us once but many times. There are calls to faith and calls to ordination, but in between there are calls to particular communities and calls to particular tasts within them – calls into and out of relationships as well as calls to seek God wherever God may be found.”
“Preaching is, above all else, an act of faith.”
“Our belief is less like certainty that like trust or hope. We are betting our lives on something we cannot prove, and it is hard to be very smug about that. Most of the time the best we can do is to live “as if” it were all true and when we do, it all becomes truer somehow.”
“Using the pieces of their broken past, they [Adam & Eve] made a future for themselves and for their descendents in the world outside of Eden, a world we continue to live in today. It is a world full of chips and dents and scars. Even where we have glued it back together you can still see the cracks, but in its own way it is lovely, a mosaic of colors, a mended work of art, a testament to the God who is willing to work with broken pieces and who calls us to do the same.”
The entire second half of the book is a collection of 13 sermons she has preached (I’m assuming). The wonderful thing about reading her sermons is that I am asking myself questions after each one. I don’t simply take what she has told me, but I’m thinking about it, processing my thoughts — it’s beautiful. And that is what she is calling us, as preachers of the word, to do – to engage the congregation (not simply spout off some wonderful little nuggets of truth-knowledge).