Tuesday, January 30, 2007
William Willimon's essay on preaching has implications for Catholic legal theorists too:
I tend to begin sermons with anthropology: descriptions of what we are doing or should do, who we are or who we wish we were. I do this because I assume that most people are more interested in themselves than in God. As Luke says, the huge crowds from all over Judea came not only to "hear him" but also "to be healed," to plug into the therapeutic "power" that "came forth from him." We tend to ask not "What is God really like?" but rather, "Jesus, what have you done for me lately?" Narcissism is a hard habit to break.
Jesus is more theocentric in his preaching. A sermon is a sermon when it's about God. We learn implications for human behavior only after we learn who God is and what God is up to.
Another thing. The discourse is eschatological. It's a vision not of present arrangements, but of what God will get when God's kingdom is come, God's will is done on earth. One doesn't hear much eschatology in my mainline denomination these days because most of us have got it so good. We're sitting on top of all this world has to offer, and we don't want to be, in Luther's words, "damned for the gospel" in order to be dragged kicking and screaming into some other world. Eschatology says that God is disruptive and dangerous before being creative. In this inauguration address, Jesus declares war, announcing an invasion related to a whole new world.