Generous Orthodoxy  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preachers, take heart!

On NPR today, I heard an interview with the young writer and former reporter Tom Rachman. His (partly) comical novel about journalists, The Imperfectionists, received rave reviews and is now out in paperback. He came across in the interview as charming, rueful, insightful, and humane. I'd like to read his book. For now, though, I'm highlighting something he said. Much of the discussion was about print versus the impact of the Internet. He expressed confidence in the future of print, but his most important emphasis was on storytelling and its communal function (the usual image of the storyteller and the campfire).

He said (I think this is an exact quote), "Everybody loves a good story, and everybody loves great characters."

What is the Bible if not The Greatest Story Ever Told, with some of the greatest characters ever?

The challenge, of course, is for sermons to be The Story, not just anecdotes from the preacher's personal collection. It's relatively easy if the text is one of the stories from the Gospels, only a little more difficult in the case of the stories from the Old Testament, and much harder if it's Paul or the other non-narrative portions of Scripture. I still swear by what I was taught 35 years ago: no matter what the Biblical text, the sermon is still The Story.