This summer I taught a free elective at Concordia Seminary, St.Louis, called “Story and Narrative in Preaching.” Even though I had taught the course 11 years ago, I totally revamped the reading materials, what the students would do during class time, and what assignments they would turn it to me.The father of many nations bears descendants who become God’s chosen people—a nation named Israel.
This summer I taught a free elective at Concordia Seminary, St.
The crown of creation, Adam and Eve and all their descendants, are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Each person has a unique personality to go with one-of-a-kind fingerprints. Laugh at a kitten chasing the string pulled by a giggling granddaughter. ” The answer from those first parents set forth a string of dire consequences: disappointment, discouragement, disease, disoriented, disgusted, deviled, doubting, deception, disbelief—and the list is not done. An elderly couple loses their life savings to an unscrupulous financial “advisor.” A visit to the doctor and the diagnosis is cancer.
Here is how Craddock answers the question, “Is a metanarrative integral to our preaching?
”The position of this essay is Yes, for the gospel to be the gospel, there must be a master narrative, a frame of reference in which life, relationships, Jesus, church, and history are set.
But I was also intentional in seeking to make the metanarrative expressive of my lived experience as well as more holistic by incorporating God’s providential care and the life of vocation. Bodies once racked with sins’ consequences will be raised from the grave and reunited with souls already enjoying the peace-filled bliss with Jesus. A child plays harmlessly with what once was a deadly cobra. And those who believe, whose trust in Jesus perseveres, rejoice in living this new creation. We know the obvious signs of faith: receiving the gifts of grace through the sacred Word and by common elements of water, bread and wine made sacred by the Holy Sprit’s presence. We are sent into this world of deadly consequences.
Of course, much more could have been included but I, too, was limited by the five page parameters. We call it eternal life, given by the Lord of life. We see this Spirit-led response: worship, praise, thanksgiving, prayer. The word is vocation, but we see it in a worker making sure the cash register balances properly, a husband-and-wife holding hands after 40 years, and the citizen picking up trash in the park.
For most part, references to the contemporary world were limited to the description of creation; otherwise, the accounts focused extensively on God’s actions with ancient Israel, Jesus’ work and the anticipated return of Christ.
As a result, the students had captured well the sin/grace dynamic that courses through God’s work of redemption and our faith.
The class was small, five students, which allowed for numerous in-class practical exercises.
One assignment was to prepare a “metanarrative” of the scriptural story which was also to be a confession of their personal faith. The basis for the assignment came from an article written by Fred Craddock. Craddock is a master storyteller in his preaching and has been one of the most influential writers in the homiletical field during the last 40 years.