Preaching the Epiphany in the Twenty-First Century

Second, and more important, at this late date A.D. the church is hardly in the position of muscling the culture away from its calendars toward those of Christendom. Instead, we are in an urgently evangelistic and missional posture, continually negotiating a hearing, proclaiming the good news to a society no longer automatically interested in our pronouncements, under the terrible and exhilarating obligation of winning the right to be heard—for our faith, our convictions, our gospel, and our ways of marking time. In other words, our job is not to blow the whistle on the culture and put them in the penalty box until they learn how to count the Sundays to Lent. Our job, instead, is to walk that pathway ourselves, to move with Christ from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and to announce with joy to all who will listen — even those who haven’t the foggiest notion of epiphany or transfiguration or baptism of the Lord, what good news and trustworthy promises are meant for them.

 

Tom Long (professor of preaching at Candler School of Theology) wrote this words in 2000. They are still true

Preaching Every Sunday

One of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make in my ministry is that I am preaching every Sunday for the first time. My guess is my longest previous stretch was three. The adjustment is not to the work load but rather to thinking how sermons work or do not work cumulatively.

That has really struck me this month as we work through the central section of Mark’s gospel and are also reading snippets of Job.  Of course, I hope my sermons stand on their own, but I am also searching for ways to make connections week to week. Right now, I’m especially looking forward to this week’s propers: the story of blind Bartimaus and the end of Job. Juicy texts both and even juicier in conjunction with one another.

It’s also interesting to make those connections for people from week to week, to help them understand that the biblical texts aren’t single verses, or even short readings, but that they are part of larger narratives which help to shape them.

I’m disappointed that I’ve not been able to do much with Hebrews these past weeks. Perhaps I’ll remedy that situation in three years when Year B comes around again.