The Contemplative Pastor: Preaching as a “creative act”

eugene petersonPeterson, E. H. (1989). The contemplative pastor: returning to the art of spiritual direction (Vol. 17, pp. 29–30). Carol Stream, IL; Dallas; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub.

I can be a pastor who preaches. I want to speak the Word of God that is Scripture in the language and rhythms of the people I live with. I am given an honored and protected time each week to do that. The pulpit is a great gift, and I want to use it well.

I have no interest in “delivering sermons,” challenging people to face the needs of the day or giving bright, inspirational messages. With the help provided by scholars and editors, I can prepare a fairly respectable sermon of either sort in a few hours each week, a sermon that will pass muster with most congregations. They might not think it the greatest sermon, but they would accept it.

But what I want to do can’t be done that way. I need a drenching in Scripture; I require an immersion in biblical studies. I need reflective hours over the pages of Scripture as well as personal struggles with the meaning of Scripture. That takes far more time than it takes to prepare a sermon.

I want the people who come to worship in my congregation each Sunday to hear the Word of God preached in such a way that they hear its distinctive note of authority as God’s Word, and to know that their own lives are being addressed on their home territory. A sound outline and snappy illustrations don’t make that happen.

This kind of preaching is a creative act that requires quietness and solitude, concentration and intensity.

© 2014, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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