I know, I know. I’ve been away from the blog for the past couple of weeks. Fall is a pretty busy time for church youth workers. There’s a blog post to be written about how there never really is a slow time for youth ministry. But for now…
Yesterday I preached at our two big morning worship services at Fourth Church, which I get to do about three or so times a year. I preached on the lectionary, and the gospel text was the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. There was a line in my sermon that I decided to change at the last minute:
Jesus’ end times vision of role reversals, in which the “last shall be first and the first shall be last,” comes to fruition in this cautionary tale of wealth and poverty.
Originally, I was going to say, “Jesus’ eschatological vision…”. But as I was making my final revisions, I recalled some of my early days of preaching, when folks would point out that I often used big theological words that I learned in seminary. This time, I opted to use plain English that people would clearly understand.
This always raises a question that every preacher faces: should we use technical theological language in our sermons or keep it simple? On the one hand, we want our congregations to know what we are saying. At the same time, I think we have an obligation to teach our congregations the language of our tradition.
Often, we can use a theological term and then define it. But in many instances this is cumbersome. Besides, I like the idea of people going home and looking up words I use in a sermon. Or, better yet, they could ask me about them afterward.
I guess I tend toward the approach of inviting listeners to rise to a higher level of discourse rather than reducing everything to a least common denominator. I probably should have kept “eschatological” in there.
What do you think? Just be sure your comments don’t use big words I don’t know…