If you’ve been around the church, you know there are many different genres of sermons. With names like “biblical” and “narrative,” we are often asked to classify and name our preaching style. My own style falls into several categories, but I’m pretty sure there is one it does not: the “daily living” sermon.
I’ve been asked about this a few different times, particularly from those used to this style or those who prefer it. But to be honest, I don’t understand it. Here’s why: it seems, well…wrong.
We use the Revised Common Lectionary and draw a different gospel pericope each week. The challenge of the daily living sermon is exposed when dealing with a pericope like “Jesus and the pious young man”. It is the one in which the guy comes up to Jesus and asks what he is supposed to do, since he is already doing everything “right”. Jesus tells him to give up all of his stuff.
Or how about the pericope in Luke in which Jesus tells the disciples to go off with just the clothes on their backs and rely on the hospitality of strangers for food and shelter.
It is hard for me to believe that these pericopes are about anything but a challenge to truly and physically trust in GOD. Like…for the basics of life; you know, actual food and shelter. By not having it. At all. Or that they are specifically not telling us anything about our stuff.
The person that likes the daily living sermon wants to feel good about what they already do. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by the truth of scripture: that they have too much stuff. Or they hate people when they shouldn’t. Or they aren’t actively pursuing the things Jesus is challenging them to. This isn’t to say that I or anyone else is doing this, but they want the badge of being a good Christian without the challenge of living it out. Please hear that I’m not judging, because seriously, who doesn’t want this, at least deep down?
Personally, when I am fortunate enough to be part of someone else’s preaching, and not actually leading it, I want to hear from them about a reason for daily living. A reason to keep GOD from hitting the big reset button and leaving behind Shane Claiborne as the new Noah. Remember, GOD did simply promise never to kill humanity again in the form of a flood. There are totally other ways GOD could make it happen: like earthquakes and tornadoes and tsunamis. Or influence human means like global climate change and nuclear war. To me, that’s a daily living sermon worth preaching: there actually is a reason to live today.
I need more than justifications and personal piety. I need a gospel that challenges and shakes me awake. I need a gospel that is truly essential, not just helpful.