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Meeting Zan Holmes, part 1

April 2, 2008

Zan the Man

On Monday I had the opportunity to hear Zan Holmes speak about preaching.  The two districts with which I have been affiliated collaborated to bring him to Mt. Vernon at no expense to the clergy and lay speakers gathered to hear him.

Beyond his bio and Curriculum Vitae, Zan Holmes is a gentle, generous and gracious guy – a true gentleman.  I got to sit next to him at lunch, where Victor pointed out to him that I am pastor to the parents of Holmes’ colleague and friend Robin Lovin.

Among the most marvelous assertions he made was this gem: “Preaching that begins in the Bible, stays in the Bible, and ends in the Bible is not biblical preaching!”

Mull that one over for a moment.

Here’s his assertion: every book, every sentence, every word of the Bible was written to address a specific situation in the lives of the people of God.  Isaiah was written to someone specific.  Romans was written to someone specific.  Revelation was written to someone specific.  And they were all written to address some problem or some issue that was happening right then and there.   Therefore, truly biblical preaching finds an intersection where the biblical text meets here and now.  The preacher’s task is to draw parallels between how God’s self is revealed in scripture and how God’s self is being revealed in our present situation.  The text serves as a kind of mirror that we as preachers hold up to the congregation and ourselves that allows us to say, “hey-that’s ME!”

The existentialist in me wanted to shout AMEN!  Narrative hermenaut in me agreed.  I do tend to view the biblical narratives as archetypal.  Critical understanding of the narratives shapes our way of understanding the world around us and the God who creates and redeems and sustains it.   I sincerely and deeply believe that God is still alive, active and revealing God’s self in the world today.

I pray that my preaching is truly biblical in the sense that Holmes means.  I pray that I not only use the words of Jesus and Paul and Jeremiah and Isaiah, but that I address the issues confronting our churches the way Jesus and Paul and Jeremiah and Isaiah did.  And that I not only preach and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, but that I celebrate it!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 2, 2008 10:31 am

    That’s great. I recall Dr. Holmes from his part in the Disciple Bible Study videos.

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