Sunday, May 11, 2008

Initial thoughts on sermons

I heard a good sermon this morning at St. Andrew's Bukoto--well, let me revise that to say I heard a sermon I paid attention to through its entirety. It was about 30 minutes long, which is typical in my experience, though due to some very long announcements about the youth sports day prizes, the 8:30 service ended at 10:20. This was problematic seeing as the next service was supposed to start at 10:00.

Our preacher was a woman who is a missionary now working in South Africa. She used stories and images, which I found immensely helpful, and she talked about the very practical point that the choices we make today affect what will happen tomorrow. But that does beg the question: how exactly is that a Christian message? She did tie that in with Christianity a titch, but the take-away (as we say in preacher parlance) was "make good choices," and I'm not exactly sure that's headline news.

For the second sermon in a row, I have heard the preacher say, "Christianity in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep," once at All Saints Cathedral and here at St. Andrew's. The thing is, these sermons seem to me to be an inch deep as well. God knows I've heard lousy sermons in the U.S., no doubt, but I listened today and thought, Where exactly is the gospel? When am I actually going to hear a preacher who takes Scripture seriously? I admit I'm surprised and thus far disappointed.


qoe said...

Loved the "Christian Take Away" sign!!! Hmmm... Sounds like a rather thin sort of Pentecost was experienced. But, if I could offer one word: praxis. The gospels meet all wisdom traditions in this single concept. If we take the gospels seriously, if we have been to the mountain top, and seen the promised land, then we must come back and have the will to DO something about it, centimeter by centimeter, day by day, everyday, today and onward.

Laura Toepfer said...

Strangely, there was no mention of Pentecost. In fact, this Sunday was referred to as "The Sunday after the Ascension" (!).

I'm afraid I don't see the praxis. That doesn't mean it's not there, but I just don't see it. I think that's one reason for my reaction yesterday; it suddenly hit me that what I heard were platitudes that would not encourage ME, at any rate, to make any change to my life, that I heard nothing that brought me closer to Jesus or to the kingdom of God. And that this has been a regular experience through the weeks I have been here.

I heard no gospel--literally, there was no gospel reading, no mention of Jesus. And I mean that figuratively, too. I went away shaken, upset and (as I mentioned) bitterly disappointed.