-- from the Introduction
At a time of year which is often as stressful and exhausting as it is exhilarating, William Carter reminds us that while holiday celebrations will fade into winter gloom, Jesus Christ, the light that casts no shadow, remains at the center of our faith and lives. This collection of seventeen sermons based on the Revised Common Lectionary is for readers who wish to take the gospel seriously during a season when commercialism and social activities can be overwhelming.
Carter's messages provide a wonderful interplay between the biblical text and illustrations drawn from contemporary life. He brings the sensibilities of an accomplished jazz musician to the lectionary readings, creating new melodies that arise from the established material -- some in counterpoint to the scripture, others elaborating upon the original tune. The sermons of this outstanding preacher are inspiring reading for both clergy and laypeople!
Senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, William G. Carter has received national recognition for his preaching and writing, with sermons and articles appearing in "Journal for Preachers," "Presbyterian Survey," "Preaching," "Lectionary Homiletics," "The Christian Ministry," and "Best Sermons 7." In 1999, he was selected to preach on "The Protestant Hour," an international radio ministry that reaches over two million listeners each week. He frequently leads workshops for pastors on homiletical themes and practices. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Carter serves on the seminary's board of trustees. Reverend Carter is also a highly regarded jazz pianist who has studied and performed with such noted artists as Phil Woods and Bob Brookmeyer. He has traveled widely presenting contemporary worship services and frequently weaves his music into his ministry.
In" Long Time Coming! "Stephen Crotts proclaims the richness of Jesus' birth. Noting that the Lord always tells us ahead of time what he is about to do, his fourteen sermons based on Old Testament lectionary texts examine how God foretold in Isaiah's prophetic ministry that he would save and redeem humankind.
Sermon titles include:
- Still Small Voice -- Isaiah 11:1-10
- When A Halo Slips -- Jeremiah 31:7-14
- What Does Your God Say About People Like Me? -- Isaiah 42:1-9
- Let Sleeping Dogmas Awake! -- Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Stephen M. Crotts, a North Carolina native, was educated at Furman University (B.A.) and Emory University (M.Div.). He recently left the senior pastorate of the 1,500-member Myrtle Grove Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, to become the director of the Carolina Study Center, a campus ministry in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Crotts is a popular speaker and a frequent contributor to Christian magazines. This is his seventeenth book.
Sermon titles include:
- Prepare For Arrival (Matthew 3:1-12)
- The Power Of A Dream (Matthew 2:13-23)
- Positive Identification (John 1:29-42)
- Building Bridges (Matthew 5:21-37)
- It's A Mystery (Matthew 17:1-9)
Linda Schiphorst McCoy has been the pastor of The Garden (a Blossom of St. Luke's United Methodist Church) in Indianapolis since 1995, and from 1982-1995 served as associate pastor at St. Luke's. McCoy earned degrees in French (B.A.) and Education (M.S.) from Indiana University, and received her theological training from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis (M.Div.) and United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (D.Min.).
Written with the practicing homilist in mind, Making Good Preaching Better helps motivate and sharpen the skills of those in preaching ministry. Laid out as a teaching tool for classroom use, it also makes the work of the homiletic professor easier.
Reverend Rueter explains how the same qualities - visual, oral, cohesive - that make it possible for preachers to remember their sermons also make it possible for parishioners to remember these sermons. He also explores concepts not covered in other homiletics books, such as the legitimate appeal to self-interest as observed in Jesus,Paul, and Moses, how to deal with "hard," controversial topics, and tips for remembering homilies.
Reverend Rueter bases his approach on the time-proven step-by-step pedagogy used in the first-century schools of rhetoric. He believes that requiring novices to prepare whole homilies for criticism presents too many possibilities for failure and thus discouragement. With its step-by-step homiletical exercises, Making Good Preaching Better gives students greater possibilities of the joy of success inputting together entire homilies - one step at a time.
Making Good Preaching Better offers three-minute oral exercises to be performed before a video camera. Each exercise uses the theological/homiletical principles explained in that chapter and includes suggestions on how to conduct the video lab sessions without provoking dread but rather, by promoting affirmation. Fourteen homilies (by the author and others) are supplied for both professionals and novices to critique. To supplement the instruction, recommendations for additional readings are provided at the end of each chapter.
Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy, seminarians, and those in Roman Catholic diaconate formation programs will benefit from this practical textbook.
Reverend Rueter wrote this book asking several questions: "How does rhetoric agree with Christian theology?" "Why aren't homiletics books laid out as teaching tools?" and "Why don't we teach homilists the skills of rhetoric?" He answers with Making Good Preaching Better. Alvin C. Rueter, Ph.D., a lutheran pastor, conducts preaching workshops and teaches homiletics in the Formation Program for Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He also teaches homiletics at the School of Theology, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He also hosts and produces a weekly radio program, Sing for Joy, and for several years wrote a monthly column, "People-Centered Preaching," for Emphasis. He earned a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Minnesota."
Preaching the New Lectionary is unique. First, it employs a literary-liturgical way of interpreting al the readings of each Sunday and major feast of the liturgical year, including the often overlooked responsorial psalm. Second, it explicitly situates the interpretation of each day within the theology of its respective liturgical season. This theology is drawn from the specific themes of the readings that comprise that particular year rather than from more general themes associated with the season. The meaning of the entire season becomes the context for understanding the individual parts of it. Third, the lections are also read in sequential order from the first Sunday of that season to the last. This reading interprets the function of the literary forms, thus providing yet another way of interpreting the riches of the readings.
This way of reading and understanding the Lectionary has potential for liturgical ministry. It can quicken the religious imagination of homilists, thus providing fresh new possibilities for liturgical preaching. It offers creative insights for those involved in the liturgical preparation for the celebration of feasts and seasons. It can also act as a valuable resource for liturgical catechesis. The insights included in Preaching the New Lectionary contribute toward enhancing the liturgical lives of the faithful.
Dianne Bergant, CSA, is Professor of Old Testament studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The general editor of The Collegeville Bible Commentary (Old Testament) published by The Liturgical Press, she was editor of The Bible Today from 1986-1990.
Richard N. Fragomeni, PhD, is Associate Professor of Liturgy and Homiletics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He is editor of The Ecological Challenge also published by The Liturgical Press.