Preaching and such on Palm Sunday.
This Sunday I am not preaching a traditional sermon. I tend not to on big days like Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and Christmas. I tend to offer ways for people to engage in the story of that day in different ways.
I suspect that I have already blogged about this somewhere. But, briefly, there are two reasons.
The first is that a long time ago I went to a youth ministry conference in Oxford, England (the inaugural Studies in Youth Ministry Conference in 1995) where Bob Mayo presented a paper on using scripture with young people. It came out of his experience of missionary work overseas and in Eastend of London. Basically he said “tell the story and shut up – let them work out what it means for them”. There was more to it than that but he did encourage us to trust people to engage with the story and to work out its meaning for them. Some were outraged – they might get it wrong. He replied that we do a lot of the time and don’t even know it. So why keep on passing on our wrongheaded ideas?
The second was a course I did 10 or so years ago on New Testament Theology through Otago University. (It was part of my Masters program). Joel Green, the lecturer, talked about the purpose of preaching being to allow the listeners imagination to be shaped by the biblical story. That is my goal.
While I love preaching and working up great ideas and trying to share them, I am aware that lots of parishioners do not take a lot in. Some do and appreciate what I am saying. But others not so much. So every time there is a 5th Sunday I don’t preach in our main service, we do small group work with art, poetry, singing, and discussion. And on Palm Sunday we alternate between doing a congregational drama of the story, and small group stuff.
So this year I am going to read Matthew 21:1-11 from The Message – more as a meditation – put yourself in this story way than a “lets stand for the gospel and try to listen: kind of way.
Then there will be some time for people to reflect on these questions.
• What did you experience with your senses?
• Where were you in this story?
• If Christ were to look at you, what might you experience?
• Think of a time when you were part of a public parade or demonstration.
– How was it like this parade?
– How was it different?
• How does this story affect you, influence you, challenge you, change you?
At 8am, instead of preaching a sermon, I will invite people to talk to about their response to those questions.
At 9.30 people will be invited to decide between one of these ways of engaging with the story:
Small group activity
· Journaling or Poetry – response to this story
· Decorating crosses – with Bonnie
· Art – response to this story
· Find someone to talk to about your response to those questions
Should be fun