Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A sermon is a train not a rocket

Recently I heard a sermon 'somewhere' which bemused me. It attended to the gospel text, misinterpreted its imagery, neglected a significant aspect of its message, and provided a fine message about trusting God whatever circumstances may befall us.

The text of Scripture was a launching pad for the sermon, which, like the biggest of rockets, hovered near the pad for the first few seconds after blast off, and then took off into outer space. Such rockets are spectacular, inspiring, and turn our eyes heavenwards. All good stuff, as it was on this occasion. But is that what Scripture's purpose is? Are we being fully and properly informed by Scripture when it is made a launching pad? And, is there not a grave danger that the rocket, once launched, might fizzle out and head away from heaven?

Better, is it not, to think of the sermon as the more humble, prosaic train. The text is the rails, and the train can only go somewhere useful for its passengers if the train stays on the rails at all times.

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