10He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’
Every weekend we gather together. We greet one another, sing, pray for each other and the world, and hear a sermon. Most of us do not necessarily attend this gathering weekly but we still have an expectation that we’ll do what we do. A sermon, message, homily, or talk is expected and we expect it to “hear a good preacher.” Although I did not discern a call to the pastoral life from a desire to preach I can say today that preaching is one of the primary joys of being a pastor.
So many things go through my mind as I prepare for a weekly sermon. The scriptural text haunts me all week, so do the stories that unfold in my daily life. There’s also the themes that we have been working with and the direction of travel that we are aiming towards. Often I find myself thinking about the hearers, those that will be gathering in expectation of a word. I think of their stories, if I know them, and where they seem to be in their faith journey: are they seeking, responding, growing, mature? I can also see the faces in my mind of children, youth, college students, is what’s emerging in my soul something that speaks to these folks?
Recently a question has emerged as I continue preparing for preaching next year, what is the purpose of the sermon?
Often when I hear about the role of the sermon today the conversation turns to Jesus and his use of parables.