Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Every discipline has its own language. Golfers talks about birdies and eagles. Mathematicians celebrate Pi Day. Doctors have a fondness for big words understood only by other medical people. Baseball players throw the ball "around the horn" and basketball players throw "air balls." Preachers, too, often use familiar words that are difficult for the average person to define. Sometimes it seems they have their own language, too.
When preachers talk about "chasing rabbits," they are not telling some hunting story. Instead, they are referring to some story so powerful that it takes people away from the main point of the sermon to a place of remembering some personal experience from which they never return. They also often talk about "the landing." Of course, this has nothing to do with airplanes, but bringing the sermon to a conclusion. Many a pew sitter has heard the preacher go on and on as he or she circles saying over and over, "and finally." only to keep going another ten minutes. And while no one hears much about it, preachers often run into "dead ends" while writing a sermon. Many a good sermon dies there. Or, what starts out as a good sermon ends prematurely with no place to go, but the trash can.
A personal favorite is the use of the word "unction." It is word which describes a sermon that not only nails the point of the scriptural text, but one that does so with such persuasive power that both preacher and listener know it is the Word of God. The preacher preaching with unction is the one who is so overcome with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that it truly becomes a "thus says the Lord," moment. The old timers used the word more than we do today. "Lord, send us more preachers today who preach with holy unction."