As important as it is to minister from those wounded places, to preach about real emotional issues, and to write from a place of spiritual depth, there is also danger in it—for us and for our communities.
Since I left parish ministry almost two years ago, the oddest question I have been asked is, "What do you preach about now that you have left the church?" The people who ask tend to be deeply involved in their communities of faith. Many are clergy or denominational officers, while others supply the volunteer hours upon which any community depends.
Much of the snickering about boring sermons comes not
because we expect so little but because we have hoped for so much. A hunger persists for a word from the
Lord—without which we are left to our boring selves.
Most books on the parables of Jesus seem to slice away at the biblical text. They parse sentences until a parable's plot crumbles into fragments, or they so domesticate the narratives that they become little more than helpful hints for daily living. If a writer isn't careful, even the best biblical exegesis can render a parable lifeless.
Their stories are too little told—the stories of U.S. servicemen and women of devout religious faith who, often at great cost, stood up to protest the use of torture in the American open-ended war on terror.