In my Homiletics exam I am asked whether sermons should be based in the “today” of the text or in its original context. Our schoolbook said it should be an amalgamation where today is seen in the light of the text and where the text is read through the light of today.
I confess I have great difficulty agreeing with anyone. If someone says or writes something I have an almost unovercomable urge to say something else (not a real word, I know). For a long time I have been thinking about what to answer (is it just my obstinacy that makes me disagree?) and have kept the question till last. Tomorrow I will have to hand in the exam. I figure that if I start writing everything will be clearer. So here goes.
Is there any light today which we can shed on God’s Word? There’s mostly only darkness I would say. Today’s world sheds darkness on the text. It inverts it. It corrupts it. It perverts it.
I am apprehensive that the notion that today shall shine light on the Word of God is a manifestation of the verdict: men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). If we are afraid of the light because it will show how dirty we are, it is easier to settle with the idea that we may look at God’s Word through our life, instead of letting God look at us through His Word. So, we let our today shine darkness (sorry, light) on the text.
Then arises the question of attraction and understanding. How do we speak to modern man? Are post-post-modern human beings interested in what the Bible said about some folks who lived two-three-four thousand years ago in a totally different culture? Perhaps not. Most probably not. Almost certainly not. So how shall we preach? How do we bring God’s Word to their attention if we don’t paint it in their colors?
We let God speak again. Here and now. We allow God’s Word to fill our empty lives, we let it become part of us, shine on us. As in the blessing I love: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26). Then we may get the light from His Word to shine on our world. And it will be a little less grimy a place. Not because everything will be clean all of a sudden, but because the filth will be seen. The dirt is real, and the truth shall set us free (John 8:32).
And isn’t freedom what we long for the most?
My schoolbook is written by Halvor Nordhaug and is called “…så mitt hus kan bli fullt” (“…so My House May be Filled”). Now I just have to fit the above to five or so sentences in Swedish…
Thank You, Lord, for giving me comprehension!