I always feel a bit strange posting links to my teachings/sermons. It feels remarkably like self-promotion, which is the opposite of what a sermon should be doing. The best sermons see the speaker fade—or vanish entirely—as Jesus becomes more and more visible through the text. My prayer (yes, I really have prayed about this) is that neither this post nor this blog is self-promoting. We’re all a mixture of weeds and wheat, so thankfully I don’t have to stay consumed with the nuances of human motivations.
I’m pulling the trigger and posting this. Opening caveats done.
I’m not that proud of this sermon, so thankfully that helps this feel less like inglorious self-promotion. It feels more in the vein of embarrassing confessional. But it’s here for your listening pleasure.
Mercifully, over a month has passed since I preached this at Mosaic on October 31. The gospel reading from the lectionary that day was Luke 19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus, the wee little man.
My primary critique with the sermon is it really is four or five sermons all wadded up into a big, ole soggy sermon ball. That soggy sermon ball was lobbed out there—to whomever was listening—with not enough attention giving to its artistic crafting. Much (MUCH!) information should have been thrown out. As interesting as it is, it needed to go. The best sermons, as I’ve heard Fred Craddock say, are the ones where your trash can is the most full.
The art of crafting a sermon is fusing the work of a scholar and an artist. It’s prose and poetry, parsing and painting, Word and Spirit. This one perhaps erred on the scholarly/informational side, but I look back on this with some encouragement. I’m learning. Learning that just saying what is so beautiful about the text—and with it, God, life, the universe, and everything—is not enough. That beauty deserves to be experienced.
Sermons should be art.
Or to put a finer point on it… sermons are art. They should be good art.