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Showing posts from August 14, 2014

"Your business is politics, mine is running a saloon." Politics and the Pulpit, Part I

This past Sunday, I did a rare thing for me (preaching-wise), which was to refer to current events. There is so much going on in the world that is overwhelming – Ebola; the so-called “Islamic State” fascists on the march; children fleeing across the U.S. border; Palestine-Israel; Russia. You turn on the television or read the paper, and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Yet each week we hear the preacher read and preach on the Gospel. And “Gospel” means “good news.” So amidst all the suffering and need, what’s the good news? Preaching or writing about current geo-political events is unusual for me. Ordinarily I try to follow Karl Barth’s preaching advice, which is that “preachers should aim their guns beyond the hills of relevance.” I agree with preaching expert David Buttrick, who finds “nervous, topical preaching based on ever-changing headlines” deplorable. (Not to mention boring.) In fact, over the past twenty years of parish ministry, I have stayed out of pr