Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Book Coming in 2017

I wanted to share some good news with everyone. My good friend Prof. Nicholas Denysenko, professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in California has a new book coming out in 2017 called Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America (South Bend, IN: The University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).

I look forward to reading the book and so should you! Check back later next year for ore information.

To read a synopsis of this book click here 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review Preaching the Luminous Word

Preaching is not an easy task. Trust me, as someone who has preached Sunday after Sunday, week in and week out for sixteen years I can attest: preaching is hard work. Why is it so hard? Well for starters as soon as you finish one sermon you have to begin another one. It's also difficult to preach an authentic inspirational and Biblical sermon that sounds fresh and new each week. I must say I do envy larger congregations that have a head pastor and maybe an associate or two which means that one could rotate sermon assignments, do I wish I could preach every other week rather than every week! But alas, pastors rise to the occasion and crack open their Bibles and lectionary notes for the following week and get started once again.

Preaching can be both life-giving and light giving at the same time as the preacher provides fresh insight and words about the Word made flesh. Preaching also can provide light and direction in a world that can often be full of darkness. Ellen Davis, who serves as the Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School, has published a collection of Biblical sermons and homiletical essays that provide both life and light to the preached word. I have come across Prof. Davis' name before, but never had the opportunity to read any of her work or hear her preach. I was both pleased and inspired by this sermon collection and now wish that I heard these sermons live.

I have read a lot of sermons in my life but Prof. Davis' sermons  are some of the best. I found that she has a razor sharp eye on the text and both keeps the reader's attention and focus on the task at hand. Many pastors fall into the trap of including everything in their sermons; details, too many quotes from other sources, and one too many stories. Davis keeps her focus on the Biblical text and therefore keeps her readers or hearers attention on the Biblical text as well. She states in the preface that she enjoys preaching on Proverbs and the Psalms which is also quite unique since many pastors, including myself, feel more comfortable in a narrative section of Scripture, for examples the many stories in 1-2 Kings for  or one of the gospel parables.

Another bonus of this sermon collection are the four homiletical essays that are included:

Witnessing to God in the Midst of Life: Old Testament Preaching 

Holy Preaching: Ethical Interpretation and the Practical Imagination 

Surprised by Wisdom: Preaching Proverbs 

"Here I Am": Preaching Isaiah as a Book of Vocation 

Each of these essays provides much food for thought regarding the craft of preaching. I certainly will read and re-read these essays again as food for my heart, mind, and soul as I continue my own preaching and teaching vocation.

If you are interested in a preacher's preacher and want some good sermons to read and reflect on than pick up a copy of Preaching the Luminous Word, you won't be disappointed.

For more information about this book click here 

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Book Published

I wanted to share the good news that a wonderful new book has been published: The Church Has Left the Building: Faith, Parish, and Ministry in the 21st Century (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016). Edited by my longtime friend and colleague Michael Plekon together with Maria Gwyn McDowell and Elizabeth Schroeder this diverse and important collection of essays calls into question the roles and structures of parish and congregational life. However, the essays also investigate the intersection of faith and life, ministry and world too.

I don't want to give too much away, but trust me, if you are a pastor or a lay leader who is vaguely interested in parish life go and buy a copy of this book, buy one for yourself, for your pastor, for your friends! You won't be disappointed. I also have an essay in the book too!

For more information about The Church Has Left The Building click here 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review The Eloquence of Grace

I never heard of Joseph Sittler before reading this book. I came across his name online somewhere and decided to read up more about him. I'm glad I did! This new book, edited by James Childs Jr and Richard Lischer with a Foreward by Martin Marty (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012) is a collection of essays and sermons from the famous Lutheran pastor and theologian Joseph Sittler. I included a link to Sittler's Archives below so you can read more about him under the "biography section." Sittler was active in the mid part of the 20th century as a pastor and as a teacher at various seminaries. He lived through the depression, through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and died in the 1980's. The son of a Lutheran pastor himself, Sittler was well versed in ecclesial life from the ground up. He knew the ups and downs, the good and the bad, of parish life. His first parish was a small tiny country parish so he knew "the salt of the earth people" very well.

While the essays are written a long time ago they seem fresh and timeless. Settler's meta-narrative is God's grace towards creation focusing on the integration and interdependence of the creation and humans, between humanity and ecology, and between God and humankind.

From what I learned from this book is that Sittler was a preacher's preacher as they say, bringing the best of Biblical criticism, exegesis, and knowledge into the pulpit, bridging the pulpit and the pew, the altar and the world together. His sermons are deeply pastoral bringing the best of the gospel to his hearers. This is not an easy task since many theologians have a hard time speaking to the Average Joe or Jane Doe and some pastors have a hard time explaining the Bible in words and phrases which are understandable.

I am glad that I have been introduced to Joseph Sittler and wish I knew about him years ago. The Eloquence of Grace is a book that I will return to again as a breath of fresh air as I continue my own preaching and teaching ministry.

For more information about The Eloquence of Grace click here 

For more information about Joseph Sittler click here