Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 15

COLUMN COLUMNIST 15 DAVID HULL The Joy of Preaching Music from Handel’s Messiah immediately resounds in my mind whenever I hear the text, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee’ (Zechariah 9:9 KJV). D uring a very traumatic time for the nation of Israel, when many felt they had been abandoned by God, the prophet Zechariah spoke with great hope of a coming King who would reign in righteousness and gentleness, and therefore he called the people, however dark and difficult the days were, to rejoice. When Handel wrote his Messiah, he was clearly determined that the theme of rejoicing should shine through. I have read a number of books about preaching, but I haven’t come across many authors who have written about ‘the joy of preaching’. I do wonder, though, whether many of us who preach need to recover a sense of this joy. All too often, it seems, the pressure of preparing another sermon – or even two – before Sunday, the need for careful research with commentaries and detailed biblical exegesis, making sure we have the right structure, with three points of application and a corresponding number of contemporary illustrations, and a fitting balance of humour and seriousness, can all consume our attention to such an extent that we lose sight of the joy of our calling. Yet, to be a preacher is one of the LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 15 greatest privileges in the Christian Church. Though there is a place in preaching for all emotions of life, surely joy should be the outstanding characteristic. If Old Testament prophets could look forward with hope and call upon their hearers to rejoice, how much more should Christian preachers today be able to speak with joy of the call to rejoice? After all, the apostle Paul called his readers to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’. He was so keen for them to grasp his message that he repeated it, ‘I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4). TO BE A PREACHER IS ONE OF THE GREATEST PRIVILEGES IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. THOUGH THERE IS A PLACE IN PREACHING FOR ALL EMOTIONS OF LIFE, SURELY JOY SHOULD BE THE OUTSTANDING CHARACTERISTIC When CS Lewis wrote his autobiographical account of coming to faith, he entitled it Surprised by Joy, for it was the sense of joy that most overwhelmed him. I wonder, if someone was to visit a church for the first time, whether they too would be surprised by joy, or whether they would be more surprised by the lack of it. Sermon writing techniques are, of course, important, but let’s make sure that neither technique, nor anything else, ever stems the flow of joy through our preaching! seeking as the Lord of Joy himself’. He is the one who rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)