Friday, March 28, 2008

Frederick Buechner challenges me to speak out of my own sense of hope and the resurrection

SPEAK FROM YOUR OWN HEART. The following paragraphs by author/preacher Frederick Buechner come from He's telling preachers that if they're going to preach about hope and the resurrection they should do so more out of their own experience of hope and faith in the resurrection than out of impersonal examples, history, experts, or saints. Good point well taken.

HOPE AND HOPELESSNESS. "And at the heart of the heart is Christ -- the hope that he really is what for years [we preachers] have been saying he is. That he really conquered sin and death. That in him and through him we also stand a chance of conquering them. 'If Christ has not raised from the dead, your faith is futile and you are still in sins,' Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians. 'If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.' If preachers are going to talk about hope, let them talk as honestly as Saint Paul did about hopelessness. Let them acknowledge the darkness and pitiableness of the human condition, including their own condition, into which hope brings still a glimmer of light."

WHY WE HOPE. "And let them talk with equal honesty about their own reasons for hoping -- not just the official, doctrinal, Biblical reasons but the reasons rooted deep in their own day by day experience. They have hope that God exists because from time to time over the years they believe they have been touched by God. Let them speak of those times with the candor and concretness and passion without which all the homiletical eloquence and technique in the world are worth little."

SPEAKING OUR HEARTS. "They believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life because at a few precious moments that is what they have found him to be in their own small deaths and resurrections. Let them speak of those moments not like lecturers or propagandists but like human being speaking their hearts to their dearest friends who at any given point will unerringly know whether they are speaking truth or only parroting it."

YOUR OWN TRUTH. "The trouble with many sermons is not so much that the preachers are out of touch with what is going on in the world or in books or in theology but that they are out of touch with what is going on their own lives and in the lives of the people they are preaching to. Whether their subject is hope or faith or charity or anything else, let them speak out of the living truth of their own experience of those high matters. Let them have the courage to be themselves."

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