Summary: How would you react to a sermon composed entirely of questions?
How would you react to a sermon composed entirely of questions? Are you intrigued when the questions refuse to give you answers, leaving you puzzling over the text for yourself? Are you cross- isn’t it the preacher’s job to explain things? - Isn’t the preacher not doing his or her job properly? Are you mystified? How would you react to a sermon composed entirely of questions?
Do you recall the past sermons you have heard over Christmas time? What WERE their messages? Is it easier to remember a sermon you agree with, or a sermon that angers you? Is it a bad sign that so few come to mind - something to be ashamed of - something not to admit to the vicar? Can the Vicar remember his own sermons of a year ago? Or is the lack of concious memory a good sign - a sign that they have blurred into one another, blurred into your very self, shaping who you are today? or is this a non question? Do you recall vividly one particular Christmas sermon that still shapes who you are today? And what if you were doing it? What would you say if you were giving a sermon at Christmas time?
Would you focus on the mangy stable round the back of that Inn with no room and preach a prophetic message on justice and homelessness? Would you call to mind the homeless on the cold streets of Redbridge and liken them to the messiah with no place to lay his head? Would you tell the story of the Holy Family’s desperate escape to Egypt to save their lives from the murderous king Herod, and compare that with the plight of assylum seekers huddled not in Egypt but in Ilford, the scars of torture on the bodies? Or is this all to moralistic and grim - oh so worthy, but just a bit too uncomfortable?
What of the Prince of Peace? Could you preach on that? Would that go down better than an uncomfortable sermon on the injustices of the world? Such a needed sermon - but can you find the time to write it - when your own christmases are so busy - so stressed? Can the baby Prince of peace bring peace to the preacher - or is he only for others, for those who hear? Is it hypocritical for the preacher to preach a sermon they know they struggle with in their own life? Or is it irresponsible to neglect areas you know others need out of cowardice, out of fear of appearing a hypocrite? Would you preach or refrain, refrain or preach? Are you glad it’s not you standing up here now? What would you say if you were giving a sermon at Christmas time?
Would you look to the wisemen? Were there three of them? Were they actually kings? Why do the carols say one thing and the bible another? Does it matter what you say? Will the congregation notice anyway? Or will they scour their bibles, spotting your inconsistencies and your sloppiness? How much will focus on the exegesis of the text, on the arcane wisdom that you have crammed up from the commentaries? How much will it be practical applied to people’s lives? But what of her life sitting next to me? Is it the same as mine? Will a lesson from the shepherds that is so relevant to a man at work in a city office mean anything to a teenage girl at school? Will an application about the scholarship of the Wisemen designed for those struggling with their GCSEs mean anything to a pensioner who left school over six decades ago? How can these texts be applied to the lives of so wide and varied a group of people? How can they be applied to my life? if it was just me - which Christmas text would I be looking at? Which would challenge me the most? And what of everyone else here? What would speak to each one of them? Which text - wisemen? Shepherds? prince of peace? stranger in manger? word made flesh? Isn’t it the preacher’s job to choose? Why doesn’t the preacher give any answers? How would you react to a sermon composed entirely of questions?
What of the wisemen? Do they endorse astrology, when the rest of the bible seems so anti it? Or are they a sign that whatever our mistakes and whatever the strange philosophies we experiment with God can find us in them? Do you read your star sign? Would you admit it to the vicar? Which is more trustworthy - mystic meg or the Archbishop of cantabury? Leo and Libra or the bible and prayer? is it all just harmless fun? why did the wisemen look at the stars anyway? Am I following a star? How is God guiding me? Have I ever resisted his guidance? Am I comfortable with this talk of God speaking to them and God speaking to me? How DOES God speak to me? How does he speak to you? What does he say? What is the star God wants you to follow? Will he call you on a journey that lasts years like the wisemen? Or a short stroll down the hill like the shepherds?