Tell Me A Story (part 3)

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I began reading Walter Brueggemann’s book, Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation. I’m still in the introduction and he’s laying out his argument in fairly large concepts. However, he says a few things that have drawn me in so far:

“The gospel is thus a truth widely held, but a truth greatly reduced. It is a truth that has been flattened, trivialized, and rendered inane. Partly, the gospel is simply an old habit among us, neither valued nor questioned. But more than that, our technical way of thinking reduces mystery to problem, transforms assurance into certitude, revises quality into quantity, and so takes the categories of biblical faith and represents them in manageable shapes” (pp. 1-2).

“To address the issue of a truth greatly reduced requires us to be poets that speak against a prose world. The terms of that phrase are readily misunderstood. By prose I refer to a world that is organized in settled formulae, so that even pastoral prayers and love letters sound like memos. By poetry, I do not mean rhyme, rhythm, or meter, but language that moves like Bob Gibson’s fast ball, that jumps at the right moment, that breaks open old worlds with surprise, abrasion and pace. Poetic speech is the only proclamation worth doing in a situation of reductionism, the only proclamation, I submit, that is worthy of the name preaching. Such preaching is not moral instruction or problem solving or doctrinal clarification. It is not good advice, nor is it romantic caressing, nor is it a soothing good humor. It is, rather, the ready, steady, surprising proposal that the real world in which God invites us to live is not the one made available by the rulers of this age. The preacher has an awesome opportunity to offer an evangelical world: an existence shaped by the news of the gospel. This offer requires special care for words, because the baptized community awaits speech in order to be a faithful people” (pp. 3-4).

This sounds good. I would exchange the the words “preaching” with “communication” and “preacher” with “follower of Christ” because I think every disciple is called to communicate God’s kingdom in winsome and wondrous ways. It’s definitely not the task of just the professional few.

I’m definitely not looking for a technique — four easy steps to communicate God’s kingdom. Nor am I abandoning technical language as I’ve discussed in the previous blogs. What I am looking for is something that recaptures the imagination and then puts some wind in the sails as it were.

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