So this post is really an extension of implication four in the series we have been considering on the impact of narrative in our preaching. Much more could be said, but this will be the last in this specific series. So to review implication number four:
4. When preaching “non-narrative” sections, consider how they are snapshots of a narrative. We saw how two genres are, by definition, largely narratival – both history and gospel (including parables, of course). But what about the five “non-narrative” genres?
So a psalm was written by someone in response to God’s work, or in gratitude for a particular moment of deliverance, or in the tension of particular situation, either individual or corporate, or to guide others in the tensions of life.
Prophecy, as we know, is not all about foretelling the future, but often more about God’s heart being revealed in respect to the present. Either way, narrative is there . . . either God’s response to the tensions and problems and reactions and dangers of the present, or God’s explanation of kingdom hope shining at the end of the current tunnel.
Wisdom literature is shot through with the tensions of a fallen world, with the challenges of human folly as we so easily pick foolish paths in the midst of the situations we face – glimpses into the story of humanity.
Apocalyptic, despite all the caveats and careful explanations that seem to overwhelm the text so often these days, is a revelation of reality, present or future, the unseen becoming seen, and it is shot through with narrative features – and then I saw, then he said, and then, and then, so the dragon waited, then the world celebrated, then the judge came, and then, and then.
Epistle, of course, is a snapshot into a narrative – that apostle’s attempt to bring the gospel to bear on the present situation of the recipients. We have to look at the occasion that prompted the writing of the letter, and we need to look for any hints as to what transpired in response to it. A glimpse into the narratives of life lived in a fallen world.
At some level there are aspects of narrative pervading every passage in the Bible. How does our preaching reflect that?