Part of an occasional series about the nuts and bolts of church work. I’m always interested in learning more about how people work, write, and create. I offer the following up in the hope that it inspires your own preaching efforts, or at least is marginally helpful.
Step 5: Pick a focus text. I usually use the Old Testament text to point to the New. Meaning, I am reading the Gospel, standing in the place of the Old Testament. Or, sort of, kind of, if you squint. like the informed listeners of Jesus’ day.
For example: in the parable, Jesus is describing the actions of a farmer, who chooses not to pull the weeds before harvest time for fear of damage to the wheat. Now, my family has been dairy farmers for generations. Something doesn’t sit right about just letting the weeds be, free to steal the nutrients from the soil away from your good crops. Here’s the rub: would they, those old listeners, have felt the same way?
That’s what commentaries and scholarship is for.
Last Thursday, I was flip-flopping back and forth between talking about parables and thinking about dreams. The commentaries I consulted left me feeling a little dry.
Step 6: Go online! There really are a great many good resources online.
I tend to check out WorkingPreacher, whose Craft of Preaching video casts are great!
My latest tool: google.com/trends
Looking at the word: dreams/Google score.
in dreams 100
the dreams 95
dreams lyrics 70
sweet dreams 65
my dreams 60
broken dreams 30
What’s that list mean? Drill down a little. These are song lyrics; probably. But, I’m more interested in seeing the tone of the searches. Are they hopeful? Sweet dreams beats broken dreams. Tuck this away: people searching for dreams, might be following songs, music, or creativity.
And, I wonder, what would the music have been like for those angels Jacob saw? Enter: sense of sound.
Another great one: google.com/trends/correlate
Correlated with dream
Analysis: dream is paired most strongly with home and business, and then some money thing, and then concerns about health and fitness. Sounds right. Success. Money. Beauty. And, then travel. I’ve played around enough to know, that these are not real high correlations, at least in the world of Google correlate.
So, see Jacob, there, on the plain. And, see him dreaming, and he’s dreaming of a place to call his own, a home, and a place to be accepted. And, with that I have found a key to connect our current people, those who will be here on Sunday, with the wider world.
I won’t take you down the same track with the Matthew text, but it could be done in a similar way by picking out the key themes and drilling down into them.
The preaching challenge is always a couple fold: first to make the stuff in the bible have any sort of sense and then to make people actually care about it.