The Commons

A preaching blog with ideas and for interactive story sermon writing and image exegesis by Len Sweet.

Here, you can comment on any post to discuss its meaning and share your thoughts.

The Power of Metaphor

In my lecture yesterday on the future of preaching, I briefly touched on how narraphoric preaching differs from the narrative preaching of the 70s and 80s associated with Fred Craddock, Eugene Lowry, Charles Rice and others. I noted the priority of metaphor, and of always looking for the root metaphor.…

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Where’s the Grace?

To one degree or another, in six weeks you will need to celebrate or at least acknowledge the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We will have some resources for you to use as we approach the date. But here is a Martin Luther story that sets the stage for…

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Trust the Spirit

Wesley was an Oxford don, classically educated and an enlightenment aristocrat. But he was acutely aware of the democracy of the Spirit, and sought never to lose the common touch. In fact, early Methodist meetings were often led by lay preachers with very limited education. On one occasion, such a…

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Does your church…?

John Wesley said that we should “plunder the Egyptians.” Are you ready for some plundering? 1) Make fun of palm-reading, but at least they’re holding hands. Is your church? 2) Make fun of astrology, but at least they’re looking upward and remembering birthdays. Is your church? 3) Make fun of…

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Robert E. Lee’s Confession

Social media makes it easy for rhetorical displays of outrage. To be sure, bigotry and violence deserve our outrage, but require more than huffy-puffy outrage if we are to heal the disease and drain the poison. Our outrage must not just lead to outbursts but outcomes of holiness and healing.…

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Context is Everything

A new play “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was scheduled to debut on Broadway in 1962. In its pre-Broadway tour, it was a disaster. Even though it had the best people behind it (e.g. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, George Abbott was the…

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Stars in My Crown

Preachers don’t usually fare well in Hollywood. Think Burt Lancaster in “Elmer Gantry” (1960) or Gerald Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher” (2011) or Stuart Devenine in “Dead Alive” (1993), or Robert Mitchum in “Night of the Hunter” (1955). You have to go back in time to find preachers in leading…

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Aaron’s Rod

Henri Nouwen was a force of nature. For many decades, when you thought of writers on Christian spirituality, whether Protestant or Catholic, the first name to come to mind was his. Then the mind went blank. When Nouwen died in 1996, that blank began to be blanketed by two names:…

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Michelangelo

There is a story told about Michelangelo that I have not been able to document–although the quotes that go with it are authentic. When a little boy, this tradition goes, Michelangelo was given a small Greek sculpture of a human form, half chiseled from the marble. For the rest of…

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Jesus’ Humor

I collect everything I can on Jesus’ humor. During Lent he is remembered as a “man of sorrows acquainted with grief,” but we also need to remember that most of the time he was a man of joy, immersed in laughter and food and conviviality. Of course, Jewish humor is…

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