Just one more post for this week. I’ve been (over)working the analogy of preaching as culinary work on behalf of others, suggesting that there are better and worse ways to “cook the meal” of a sermon. Just one more thought:
There are those cooks who bring out the best in ingredients, and there are those that try to use ingredients to do what the cook wants.
Perhaps you’ve tasted cooking that really makes the most of what is in it. Each vegetable prepared to flourish in its own way, the sauce offering the subtle richness and blend of each ingredient, and so on. It takes a good cook to “honour” the ingredients in this way. And then there is the bland cooking that tries to force every ingredient into the same mould. Meat is meat, so turn it into parched tree bark. If vegetables are boiled long enough, even the colour can join the flavour in the evaporated exit. And perhaps a really bad cook will have the ingredients for one meal, but try to make another meal anyway, just because they want to.
So it is with preaching. We are working with the absolute finest material – the inspired record of divine revelation. There is a wonderful variety of genres, sub-genres, plots, themes, grand sweeps and tiny details. Each writer’s personality subtly coming through, along with the Author’s thumbprint throughout.
Some preachers seek to honour the “ingredients” they are working with. They observe and analyse and consider the text carefully and prayerfully. They seek to reflect the text and they make it their goal to say the text’s something, not just their own anything. They seek to say what the text says and do what the text does. And in the process they both nourish and delight their congregations.
Others treat the Bible as a bland set of staple ingredients. Mix freely, swirl it all together, bake for an inadequate time, and slop it up. Essentially the goal is not to say the text’s something, or even the Bible’s something (although that will be the claim). Rather, the goal is to say the chef’s something. I wanted to make a chicken curry. Didn’t have the right ingredients, but I made one anyway.
What a privilege to help people not only enjoy the richness of the Bible, but to introduce them to the wonderful God who gave it, and himself, to us.