I put up a couple of posts ago an interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber and mentioned that she gets it in a deep way. Somewhere around the 40th minute of that NPR/On Being interview is really what I was talking about. This is a link to another interview where she says something similar. Just in case you didn’t watch that hour before.
Is there a chance of being too vulnerable, though?
I only preach from my scars, not my wounds. I don’t mind putting my stuff out there. It doesn’t bother me, but if I do that with a wound and my parishioners respond by wanting to bring me bandages, so to speak, I have failed. Then it is about me.
A lot of preachers from previous generations were taught not to talk about themselves in sermons because “it’s not about you.” Well, nobody wants to hear about your addiction to internet pornography from the pulpit because that makes them uncomfortable in a way that’s not going to illuminate the gospel, it’s only going to point to you. I’m very careful about that.
If I’m going to reveal something about myself in a sermon—which I almost always do—the purpose has to be to show the people how much in need of God’s grace we are. If you aren’t convicted by something how are you ever driven to the foot of the cross? If nothing can convict me, if I’m great and I have all of my shit together then we just leave Jesus idling in his van on the corner.
Beyond her understanding of the gospel, the reason I said I’d trust mom & dad with her is that. She has an understanding of the office and preaching. If you are telling a story about yourself, it is probably going to make you look bad. The preacher points to Christ. Preaching is not therapy, something she says in that interview, what she means by scars and not wounds, because therapy is about making you feel better about yourself. Preaching is about making you feel like crap about yourself, but over-joyed at what Christ is doing with you anyway. This clip is a perfect example of the conflict of therapy and preaching. Jesse needed a preacher and a call to repentance. Something that within that show he never really got. He had chances, but not blunt chances.
Anyway, the web project is reading Bolz-Weber’s book and reacting to it. Right now I’m about three chapters in, so I figure I’ll start next week.