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When I was back in seminary, I remember going to Dr. Brad Braxton’s Introduction to Preaching Class at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
I was excited in that Brad Braxton was an is an expert in African American Preaching
I expected to learn “THE” way to guarantee a powerful sermon in the African American tradition.
After a while in the class, I was a little disappointed in that he was not teaching us “THE WAY”
What I didn’t understand is that he was teaching us an important component of great preaching….
He was teaching us how to recognize God’s footsteps in our lives and its importance in sermon prep.
Specifically, developing our imagination which is roughly related to preaching dangeours semrons that Drank Thomas speaks of.
But more in line with Warren Weirsby, Preaching and Teaching with Imagination.
I remember one class where he sent us out to walk around the grounds of Vanderbilt with just one command, “Pay Attention.”
And then after 30 min or so of walking around paying attention, we reassembled and Dr. Braxton gave us a text and told us to interpret it in light of what we know about the text and what we saw when we walked around.
Interestingly someone made a connection to the text from a door he saw. an Odd looking door that hit him and helped him to ask questions of the text in an interesting way.
Someone else connected it in some way to the wind that blew. Others saw nature like spiders and flowers and used that splendor to help to look at the text.
Others appealed to seeing students walking around. Some intent and running swiftly and others taking there time and stopping as if they had no where to go. Where were they going? why were they going? how can that help me preach? Maybe it can’t? Maybe I take this in mind as I preach to some who are in a hurry to go about what they are doing and others not.
Sometimes we made connections to the text, sometimes not….But attempting to see benefits us.
Another class, Dr. Braxton gave us 4 texts, and then played a Marvin Gaye tune, and asked us to speak to the text in light of the Tune. Does the text attack the sentiment in the song? Does the song disagre with the text? How does it agree? How does it disagree?
Does Marvin Gaye have anything to say to the text? Does the text have anything to say to Marvin Gaye?
I didn’t understand at the time, but Dr. Braxton was trying to get the students to do was to connect the Biblical text from the past to our present circumstances. Present Life. Our songs, our movies, our hopes, our dreams, our daily drudgery….
you know…our present real life.
The real world…
This is why I often speak of preaching to “Grandma and Dem…”
The Bible perspective may not agree….but sometimes it does. The Bible perspective sometimes presents a perspective greater, but it gets down in the dirt with us.
AND this is what the season of Advent is all about yall.
God became human.
Immanuel – God With Us. Matthew 1:22-23
Your sermon must tell the story of a God that walks with us….all of us…
The beauty is that it is the God of heaven, providing a glimpse of glory through our daily lives…
For God with us is not just about the First Advent where Jesus came as a baby in Bethlehem
God with us is not just about the Second Advent where Jesus comes back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords…
But God with us is also about God showing up right here and right now…
For when David wrote…
Even if I make my bed in hell you are there and with me….Psalm 139:7-10
Yeah though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, you are with me…Psalm 23:4
Preach Advent, in all its phases,
Preach God with us…
And then let the celebration take care of itself…
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