Bittersweet Preaching? ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bittersweet Preaching?

This Sunday I get a chance to give a message at my church, which raises the inevitable question of what topic or Bible passage to address. After considering several possibilities, I think I’ve come to a conclusion, and my subject will be…


Luckily for me, bittersweetness is a very prominent theme, not only existentially, as we feel it in life, but in the Bible. (This makes a lot of sense, since the Bible is the key to understanding this story we find ourselves in, and therefore speaks to the paradoxes that confront us, including bittersweetness.)

The central theme of my talk will be the way that joy and pain come to us in this life—not as separate entities, but as interwoven threads, a mosaic of dark and light colors, both elements of a black and white photo.

Biblically, my starting point will be 2 Corinthians 6:8-10:

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

A more bittersweet passage is hardly imaginable. Something I’m thinking about a little is how to present my topic… John Piper gets to paste his catchphrase (“Christian Hedonism”) across his messages and the front of his book, but then…he has a book. He also has the advantage of being somebody. I’ll have to weigh the benefits of throwing “Bittersweet Life” out there.

At any rate, I think that converting this blog's basic premise into a spoken message will be a healthy challenge. (Your prayers would be very welcome.) I'm trusting that doing this will help me continue to develop deeper biblical and theological foundations for what I've found to be a very helpful understanding of our current setting.
Life on earth is pain. Life in Christ is pure joy. Therefore, life is bittersweet.

As I was typing this, I realized a bunch of you will probably want to fly in to hear this seminal message. So as you make your travel plans, keep in mind that we have three spare futons, as well as overflow space on the linoleum kitchen floor.

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Andy said...

As I am unlikely to be travelling to KC this weekend, perhaps you might make the transcript or an MP3 download available after Sunday?

Will Robison said...

I'd love to come to KC this Sunday, but I simply don't want to cramp Aidan's style... ;)

Timothy Goering said...

I'll take the kitchen floor!

allister said...

Hey i like your blog. You've got some good stuff you talk about - things that i can really relate to. I'll definitely be back.

Ariel said...

I'm working on the MP3 option, Andy. Given my church's lack of current technology, it's a challenge...

Will, it's kind of you to think of Aidan. When I mentioned what you said, he told me to, "Tell Will not to flatter himself, he won't cramp my style." Sometimes I'm almost afraid to pass on the things this kid says.

"I'll take the kitchen floor!"

You got it, man. I'll even throw in some coffee and a bagel. Or maybe some cheap cherry pie.

Thanks for the good word, Allister. Hope to see you around.

Oneway said...

Solid opportunity, man. Peep this blinding quotation from Matthew Simpson in "Lectures on Preaching":

"His(The preacher's) throne is the pulpit; he stands in Christ's stead; his message is the word of God; around him are immortal souls; the Savior, unseen, is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene, and heaven and hell await the issue. What associations, and what vast responsibility!"

I'll be praying.

Ariel said...

Thanks for the heavy quote, Oneway. And the prayer as well. It's good to keep things in perspective.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife