I felt enthralled and overwhelmed by the sculpture of Mary holding Jesus (pictured above) when I stepped into the foyer at Belle Meade United Methodist Church to film this week’s episode of Three Minute Ministry Mentor.
And the name of the sculptor grabbed my attention immediately. Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet, is among my favorite poets. Yet it turns out the poet and sculptor are not the same person, but cousins, sometimes mistaken for one another.
It took some investigation to sort out the story of two Kahlil Gibrans. The sculptor of this Piata (Mary and Jesus), born in 1922, was the namesake of his elder poet-artist cousin, author of The Prophet. The younger Gibran even wrote a biography about the literary genius of the elder poet. The sculptor often rendered artistic creations from found materials that he shaped into new works of art.
Preaching Jesus can be like this. Lots of investigation and sorting out identities. Working with found materials and fashioning new works of art.
In Lent and Holy Week, preachers are called to the tasks of investigating, sorting, and fashioning the stories and teachings of Jesus in big ways.
In this week’s episode of 3MMM, I share a story of my own learning to preach Jesus more honestly.
I learned about preaching in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Usually that learning focuses on pastoral care, but the students also led worship in the hospital where I was learning. Fortunately for us, the CPE staff called on a local pastor, my very own pastor, Jim England, to give us some guidance before we stepped into the pulpit.
England challenged us to step out from behind Jesus and risk being seen and heard by Jesus, before preaching Jesus.
I preached my first sermon while I was a seminarian and CPE student. It was a sermon about the foremothers of Jesus. But that’s a story for another day. Since that first sermon, I have learned a lot about the practice of preaching and how it connects with other aspects of ministry.
What have you learned about preaching Jesus?
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May the mercies of Lent be yours this week.