Six-Week Study on the Church and Disability – Part 2

Week 3: That I might see

Discussion:

  • Do you know of someone who has become blind, or otherwise disabled in their life time?
  • How did your family react to you in this exercise?
  • How did you react to your little difficulties along the way?
  • Were you ready to be “fixed” by the end of the evening?

Application:

The main passage here is Judges 16. The mighty warrior Samson had only a few things he could not do. Mainly, he was limited in telling anyone the secret of his power, but he could not withstand the beauty of Delilah. After Samson was captured by his enemies, his eyes were gouged out. A plain sense reading of this may lead us to suspect that this was because of Samson’s sin. This is what many evangelicals think:

It was fitting that Samson was first blinded in his imprisonment. He was attracted to ungodly relationships through his eyes. His failure to restrain this attraction to women brought him into bondage[7]

The less for us is that the deeper we allow ourselves to be influenced by the glamour and allurement of sin, the more blind we become. This extraordinary story tells us that Samson was spiritually blind long before his eyes were gouged out (Judges 16:21). We must come to recognize and accept the reality that sin can seep deep into in our lives. We must know that sin has a blinding, numbing impact upon us. Otherwise, we find ourselves ensnared by it, just as Samson did.[8]

Blinding is often the way that our compromise humiliates us – his name meant ‘Sun’, yet he has no light at all any more; and that is a consequence, spiritually, of what happens to us when we compromise on our consecration to God, when we’re not the holy Christian that we ought to be.[9]

Indeed, we may think the same thing but this was a common practice in the time that would have happened even if Samson had been a Saint.[10] Blinding is a punishment for losing to your enemy, not a side affect of sin. How might the Church responded to the person blinded or otherwise disabled after birth, as by an accident? Would you assume that the person was sinful and needed to be blinded by God in order to “see?”

Preparation for Next Week:

Text: Isaiah 54.6; 1 Thess. 2.13-16; 5.14

Before you read:

  • Think about the times you tried to learn something new that was far beyond what you had ever learned before. What was your struggles?
  • Does the Gospel need to be preached to those with cognitive disabilities?

Exercise:

Watch these videos:


Week 4: That I might hear

Discussion:

  • What is like to listen to a sermon where you do not understand the words but you know it is important?
  • The Body of Christ is struggling with what to do in delivering the message to those almost unable to receive it. Is this a waste of time?

Application:

I use bible software on a daily basis. I started with e-sword, moved to Bibleworks 8, and now I am a big fan of Logos 5. I can hear and comprehend my native tongue, I am learning German, and I have a pretty good grasp on New Testament Greek. At home, I have numerous bible translations, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other books, not to mention the aforementioned bible software programs. In total, I have nearly 6000 volumes of material available to me. If I do not know something, I can find it it. I do not give a second thought about someone presenting to me a message in a way I cannot understand it. After all, I am a native-English speaker, a language most of the world uses.

But what about those who even if they use English, hear or receive English as well as you heard the German messages? What if everything about the Gospel was as muddled as having to listen to sermons in foreign languages. In Romans 10.14, Paul commands and commends the hearing of the Gospel:

How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them[11]

What are we to do then to those who hear but cannot hear? We spend a vast amount of resources on translating Scripture for those without a copy in their language, but how often do we consider translating the Gospel in such a way as to give it to those with a cognitive disability?

A larger question remains — does the Gospel have to be preached to those with a cognitive disability? The most charitable view, it seems, is to suggest that it does not. After all, God in his justice would not send someone to hell if they were unable to make a choice? So, then why waste our time?[12] Consider this: If the Gospel is to be preached to every creature, to deny, then, the preaching of the Gospel even to those who are likely to never have the ability to accept it is to deny that creature their status before God.

The text this week demands the ability to speak the Gospel and to receive the Gospel by the internal hearing. Yet, if the latter ability is absent?

Watch these two videos and discuss how they helped you better to understand the intended message of the speaker(s):


Preparation for Next Week:

Text: Leviticus 13.43-45; Matthew 8.1-4

Before you read:

  • Give your loved ones around you a lot of hugs

Exercise:

  • For this entire week, avoid all human contact. You may speak to others, but only if you have to. Avoid shaking their hands, giving hugs, kisses, or any other physical touching.
  • Do not express love in anyway to another person, even verbally, and do not accept it from anyone.
  • Do not associate with your friends or loved ones any more than necessary.
  • When you go shopping or wherever you can, wear a surgical mask.
  • At the end of the week, find one person to receive a hug from. Only one.

Week 5: That I might be loved

Discussion:

  • Where you able to make it through the entire week without being touched and without touching?
  • How did people respond to you while you were wearing the mask?
  • What did the hug at the end of the week feel like?

Application:

It does not really matter what ancient leper actually had; what matters is that the person could not be touched by anyway. To add insult to injury, the leper would now only be known by the name of “Unclean, Unclean!” He was removed from his community, exiled, and unloved. He had a sickness that epitomized sinfulness.

Today, we had such a disease. In the early 1980’s, the AIDs epidemic began to make waves. Christians took up arms against the “gay disease.” It was incurable, but that was about all that was really known about it. Today, AIDs has become much less a national tragedy; yet, AIDs victims still suffer stereotyping, unfounded fear, and in many cases, exile.

Think for a moment how the two passages offered this week were opposed to one another. In Leviticus, the leper was cast out, condemned to be the unclean soul. Yet, Jesus reaches out his hand to touch, to provide comfort, to share something of humanity with the unclean person. Yes, the person was made unclean, but more than that, he was accepted back into the human race. The leper could not see his family, receive hugs, know love once again.

The Church does not have the ability to pick and choose who they will touch, heal, love. What we have is a command to follow and to imitate Jesus. How might we as a Church respond in times of crisis to those who society has forsaken?

Preparation for Next Week:

Text: Luke 5.30-31; 15.3-7

Before you read:

  • Consider if it is acceptable to have pretended to be blind, untouchable, and delayed in learning

Exercise:

  • Reflect on the last five weeks. Who is “good” and who is “broken?”
  • Visit this website and see the work of this community: http://www.larcheusa.org/

Week 6: That I might be healed

Discussion:

  • What did you think about L’Arche?
  • Who are the found and the lost sheep in Jesus’ parable, especially when it comes to this discussion?

Application:

In the first passage, Jesus defends his actions of eating with sinners by saying that he did not come to heal the righteous, but the sick. The sinners, he confirms, need a physician. In the second passage, Jesus leaves the sheep who are safe and sound to go and find the one that is lost. We often like to point our fingers at the sinners. Or, perhaps, the Gentiles. But what if, if this situation, we are still the ones who are lost?

Christian theology is often times formulated only in times of great need. The great creeds came only because Christians needed to be reminded of the divinity of Christ, or to have it assured that Jesus was not a mere angel. In other words, Christian theology developed to remind wayward Christians that they were in danger of once again becoming the unhealthy.

There are many verses throughout the Canon of Scripture and traditions throughout Canonical Theism teaching us to love the unlovable, heal the sick, to not judge, to remember the poor, to care for the weak. Why do you think this is? Rarely does God ever speak to those who are perfect; instead, God will send prophets and others to warn those who are committing deep injustice, who are harming others, who are, regardless of their position in the covenant, are in danger of slipping away. So, why do you think it is God is speaking to us today through Scripture, again, drawing out a theology of personhood and human flourishing?

Communities like L’Arche leave behind testimonies of the perfect discovering that they are the ones broken.[13] Keep in mind that to admit you are the one God is speaking to — to admit you are the broken one here — does not allow you suggest that you are disabled in anyway. You only pretended to be blind, only gave up touch for a week. To then compare your emotions and status before God to those God has commended to you is to have unlearned this entire lesson.

Instead, accept that God is speaking to us in Scripture, to use the broken, to remind us that what is created is good. It is not ours to fix, but ours to take care.


[10] Victor Harold Matthews et al., The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (electronic ed.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Jdg 16:21.

[11] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible ( (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)), Ro 10:14.

[12] Consider this blog post for the opposite view: Hodge, B. C. “Theological Sushi: Are Those Who Have Never Heard Saved Anyway?” Theological Sushi, August 16, 2012. http://theologicalsushi.blogspot.com/2012/08/are-those-who-have-never-heard-saved.html.

[13] Reimer, Kevin S. Living L’Arche: Stories of Compassion, Love, and Disability. Liturgical Press, 2009.

Spink, Kathryn. The Miracle the Message the Story: Jean Vanier and L’Arche. Paulist Press, 2006.

Six-Week Study on the Church and Disability – Part 1

This is for a class assignment – my last. It is not beautifully edited yet, and indeed, will likely never be. But, I’m going to share it anyway.

Introduction:

What does Scripture teach us about people with disabilities? Is there something more that we can add? This six week study will focus not only on the written word, but will involve a series of exercises that will hopefully bring a new focus upon the idea of personhood.

Week 1: That I might be good

Text: Genesis 1

Before you read:

  • Think about the words we use to identify things that are not in their place. We use words like “broken” and “good” to theologically describe various attributes of a person. Perhaps they are broken if they are a sinner. Maybe they are good if they have done something that is morally good. Thus, broken becomes our word for “bad” and good our word for “acceptable.”

Exercises:

Application:

In the first chapter of Genesis, the first chronological chapter of our bible, we read of the wondrous creation of our world. This is often turned into the idea that when God created the world it was good, this is opposed effects of the Fall.[1] Before Adam’s sin, everything was morally “good” and thus, healthy and beautiful — perfect. Certain Christian theologies argue that the Fall (Adam’s sin) has give us disabilities.[2] John Walton reminds us that good has another connotation. He writes, “that it was all “good” reflects God’s wisdom and justice.”[3] God’s wisdom shows a certain direction in God’s creation. God is very much the methodist here as the Divine follows a certain amount of cadence he methodologically creating a world. Later Christian theologies have suggested that in the Fall, as demonstrated in Genesis 2-3, sin has become such a stain on the human race, we now have death, cancer, sickness, and disability.

Paul says in Romans 8.22 that Creation has groaned, struggled, until the time of Jesus. Revelation speaks of a new creation that has come to be. Christian theology also teaches that Jesus undoes the effects of the Fall. Even if you take the Fall as a theologically historical event, is it fair enough now to say that the “good” to our world has now returned?

Your assignment this week was to review the people first language. The Snows have melted away many language barriers between the abled and those who are disabled.

At the bottom of the simple chart, the Snows have asked that people add new descriptors. How might we come to describe “good,” “broken,” “impure,” and “holiness” in such a way to remove these words from the language of the Fall that has given rise to the idea that people with disabilities are some how in needed of repair?

Preparation for Next Week:

Text: Deuteronomy 23.1; Leviticus 21.16-24

Before your read:

  • If God doesn’t make mistakes, then explain those with congenital disabilities.
  • Watch this video:

Exercise:

  • You are not allowed to pray or speak about God. Your family can continue this, but you are not allowed to be in the same room, even at dinner prayers.
  • You must remove all bibles and devotional books from your house
  • For the next week, you are not allow to go near a church. You must drive around churches, but least a block if not more. The next Sunday morning, you are not allowed to enter the sanctuary, but must remain outside behind the closed doors.

Week 2: That I might serve God

Discussion:

  • How did you spend your week? Was it difficult being a believer but avoiding all aspects of the worship of God?
  • What are some other times we have banned people because their appearance from participating in some social, religious, or political rite?

Application:

It is difficult for the modern believer, as especially those who have the open table of Communion, to understand the social separation those who had some manner of physical oddity experienced in the ancient world. The Levite could not be a priest and the disfigured were banned from God’s Temple.

In the passage from Leviticus, the disfigured person was one who had any physical appearance that stood out from the rest of the crowd. What if we were to choose to exclude those with dark hair from acting as clergy? Or if serving the Lord’s Table was limited only to those who were in shape?

Count the number of physical defects you see in this passage? According to Haydock, later Rabbis would include up to 140.[4] Dig into v.18. Haydock again draws something that should worry us. It was not just a split nose as some translations say, but a nose that was too big or too small![5]

In Acts, reportedly written by a physician, we encounter two people who were healed of their blemishes, but only one would be healed physically. In Acts 3.1-27, Peter and John encounter, as most of our translations label him, a “crippled beggar” outside of a gate to the Temple. When the beggar asks for money, Peter and John instead bless with with a healing. The first thing this beggar does is to enter the Temple and praising God. This sign of “praising God” is a Lukan note to the reader that something has just happened that is connected back to the Old Testament.[6] Later, in Acts 8, the Apostle Phillip meets a eunuch traveling away from Jerusalem. He would not have been allowed inside the Temple, but knew the Jewish bible well enough to have a copy on his person. Phillip offers him healing as well, but the Eunuch remains a eunuch.

What do these healings teach us about the view of physical deformity in the New Testament and what it means to be healed? The beggar had given up, seeking on to exist, but he was next to the Temple, as close as the could get. The eunuch had not given up but could come as close to God as he was allowed to, by reading Scripture. They were given their healings in the form of bring them closer to God. To do so, the crippled man was given the change to walk into the Temple while the Eunuch was given the chance to help build a new Temple.

Preparation for Next Week:

Text: Judges 16; 2 Kings 25.7

Before you read:

  • Does God give us abled-body people disabilities as punishment?
  • If so, what does it say about those born with the same disability we could at any minute receive?

Exercise:

  • One evening this week, you are to remain completely blind. Find a blindfold that can fit securely so that no light is received
  • You must carry out your even routine — even cooking.
  • Try to focus on how you are acting and how your family are acting around you.

[1] For example, see this post by an author with the Answers in Genesis group, equating disease of the various sorts, with evil: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v7/n1/problem-millions-of-years-natural-evil (Accessed 11.29.12)

[2] Otieno, Pauline A. “Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Disability: Implications on the Rights of Persons with Disability in Kenya.” Disability Studies Quarterly 29, no. 4 (May 11, 2009). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/988.

[3] Victor Harold Matthews et al., The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (electronic ed.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ge 1:19.

[4] The Rabbins reckon 140 blemishes on which the Sanhedrim had to pass sentence. They also require in the high priest superior beauty, strength, riches, and wisdom —George Leo Haydock, Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary (New York: Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1859), Le 21:17.

[5] George Leo Haydock, Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary (New York: Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1859), Le 21:18.

[6] Doble, Peter. The Paradox of Salvation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

 

Engaging “Preaching” (Fred Craddock) Part III – The Audience

fred craddock
Click to Order

This will have to be my final post on this subject. I will, of course, post the sermon on Monday. Again, I’ll clean up the language later. 

Back in the old days, when I was a lay minister for a small, independent sect of holy-rollers, our messages were supposed to be “evangelical.” Now, do not get your hopes up; this word only mean that we preached the need for salvation to those already saved. Considering that in the 32 years I was in the sect, my particular communities suffered only decline, with the newest members coming in two decades ago. There were re-alignments. Some United Pentecostals would move over, but that isn’t really a conversion so much as it is a “better revelation.” So, if visitors came, the pastor would usually preach. Further, it was the pastor’s job to preach pointed (i.e., slicing and dicing) messages; it was our job to make everyone jump and shout. I was fairly good at that. Actually, of the ministers in West Virginia, I can objectively say that I was by far the best. I tended to remember that the audience was before me, in the pews, while too often, the lay ministers, filled with envy, sought the approval of the pastor. (My wife and I would slowly notch on a piece of paper how many times one lay minister would use the words “my pastor.”) When we preach, I believe, we preach to those who are before us; however, rarely if ever should the sermon be about the people before the preacher. By this, I mean that pastors and other clergy members are sometimes given unique insights into the struggles of their parishioners. So, they must avoid unless necessary (perhaps their is a sudden death in the congregation. Of course, this is not a sermon, but words of comfort) using those circumstances as cannon fodder to shoot off at the mouth.

Craddock proposes that periods of study and reflection are necessary in the preparation of the sermon. He also suggests that our focus is two-fold; one focus is on the audience while the other focus is on the biblical text. This is where theology occurs — when we are connected to Scripture. Again, theology is front and center in the role of the sermon, because theology is also what connects the members to one another. I would not feel comfortable in a conservative presbyterian church nor would I feel comfortable with a conservative United Methodist preacher who is more in tune with Mark Driscoll than with William Willimon. As part of an audience, I am part of a community, an intentional community.

Our author writes, “it is… important for the health of one’s preaching to submit to the discipline of distancing everyone once in a while, to remind oneself that those who are to hear this sermon are who they are and have their worth as well as their needs intrinsically  whatever may be their attitude toward or their relation to the minister (87).” This is my biggest concern, I think. I am, perhaps, a bit esoteric in my viewpoints. In my Sunday School class, I can see the Gospel unfold. I know the characters of the Gospel and I see them, from time to time, in the faces of the Sunday School class. (Spoilers! This has to do with the sermon). I do not see the Gospel as a one time event, told only in the historical past tense (Matthew and Luke) but one that is happening right here and now (Mark and John). Therefore, my problem is to remain distant enough to preach this sermon, but is is a sermon that is supposed to be close enough for them to recognize themselves in the Gospel story. Personally, I think any group of people can recognize themselves in the Gospel story. Craddock is against a sermon who puts people down; I agree; however, being compared to Judas doesn’t always make someone’s day. But, I like Judas. I like the person that reminds me of Judas. They both have received a bad reputation, then and now. So, how do I keep a safe but enjoyable distance?

Craddock’s section on The Listeners as Congregation is perhaps the most insightful in dealing with an audience you know because it deals with the familiarity between the preacher and the audience. He has three questions to ask oneself in preparation — who, when, and where. It may seem a little coy, but the location of the sermon does actually matter. In our church, we have the centrum which is the large worship space. We also have a more traditional chapel. I will stand in the chapel on Sunday. The centrum would give it an air of familiarity I do not want and I suspect an air of authority not needed. The chapel is the one those coming to hear the sermon will be less likely to know, space wise; therefore, they will not be too comfortable and have too many expectations. The when is also a unique factor. It will be in the evening, at an unusual time. It is not the normative church gathering time, but one in which we are preparing for Monday and one in which we are usually dropping our children off for choir. The who, on the other hand, is the most secure unknown quantity.

There are three ways the minister and the congregation build a relationship, Craddock points out. I’m not a minister, and they are not my congregation; however, for Sunday, I guess we will play our respective parts. The formal method is one of self-education. This involves the local history of the people, the images of themselves, and interviews. Informal requires the minister to sit and observe. I have to say — I’ve watched the senior pastor doing this when he thinks no one else is watching. But, he does; and he notices the relationships between people. It is interesting to watch this develop. Finally, Craddock labels the “capacity to achieve a large measure of understanding of another person without having had that person’s experiences” the empathetic imagination. My imagination, Rev. Craddock, can get away from me. This latter method involves the identification of the minister with the congregation, even if shared experiences do not allow for a real one. This is, I think, something I can identity with because of my studies in Mark and literary criticism. We create our bonds. We structure our experiences to determine which ones identify our unique self-images. Then we must ask ourselves if we can validate others as equal to ourselves if we do not share the same experiences – especially those experiences we deem as important.

So now, I turn to the final few days for sermon preparation. Here, I will cut and carve away those things I believe breach too much distance as well as those things that drive us too far part. Distance is good, but sometimes, distance creates an air of superiority.

Engaging “Preaching” (Fred Craddock) Part II (Theology of Preaching)

fred craddock
Click to Order

This week did not turn out like I expected. Sandy blew in and I experienced a power outage. It was not easy. So, I may not get to all the posts I wanted; however, this is one that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ll edit the language when I turn everything in to the instructor. Oh, and yes I know. Symbol and all that, but think about it. 

The megachurch pastor no longer really preaches theology. Maybe this is not fair. But we have far too many Joel Osteens than we do Adam Hamiltons. The local pastor does from time to time preach theology, although I have to wonder what theology is actually being preached. In the United Methodist Church, I’ve personally encountered a few different theologies. Surprising, even some that is anti-Wesleyan and more along the lines of the neo-Calvinism of Mark Driscoll and John Piper. Of course, there are more moderate Wesleyan theologians such as N. Clayton Croy. William Abraham has even pronounced the death of Wesleyan theology while others like Bishop William Willimon (ret.) has taken a more Barthian shine to Wesley. Craddock, I think, would fit will with a Barth-Wesleyan theological tribe. So, what are we to do about preaching theology in a Methodist church?

From a historical theology angle, the United Methodist Church is more Methodist than it is Wesleyan; it is more American Protestant than it is Wesleyan. I would suspect that John and Charles Wesley would not so easily associate themselves with the United Methodist Church as many would like, neither the conservatives nor the liberals. Wesley would lament the loss of the substitutionary atonement focus by the liberals and the loss of charity by the conservatives. Yet, how many founders of sects, denominations, or churches, two hundred or more years removed would easily associate with their spiritual descendants? This is not meant to be an attack on United Methodism, since it is doubtful Calvin would care much for the Presbyterians either; instead, it is meant to suggest that we can reform Methodist doctrine and stop pretending to be completely Wesleyan. In other words, the theology we preach need not be measured for a Wesleyan exactness. It can be our own. However, we must return to the theological framework for preaching Wesley provided us. Indeed, Wesley gave us a theological focus in every aspect of the Christian life.

If we are looking for the theological allowance for the sermon, we need look no further than the speeches given in the Gospels and Acts as well as thee Epistle to the Hebrews. This latter book is a book of homilies from an early Christian writer with the intent to persuade. It uses rhetoric to display the interpretative power of the author/speaker. Narrative passages from the Septuagint are given and then explained through the theological Christ. Craddock calls this the action of “traditioning (47).” This is a fine word indeed. We think of sermons, or preaching, as following a tradition, but it is also an act whereby the preacher establishes a tradition, hence theology. The preacher unites the past and the present with a hope for the future, creating the theological boundary of the congregation. Craddock goes on to examine the theology of preaching, making several statements along the way.

His first claim is “theology and preaching exist in a relationship of mutuality.” This is, he assures us, about using the theological tools of self-criticism. The preacher can lead the congregation to do so, but they need to have some sort of measuring rod to be self-critical. If society ever reaches the point where arrogance has so permeated the individual wherein we aren’t allow self-criticism because we are the pentacle of achievement, we will cease to be God’s creation. The Church must remain self-critical, and thus, it must obsesses over the past; it must examine where it is now in relation to where it started. There is not need to always return to a more traditional position — often times, the opposite is true — but it must know why it stands where it does now. Without a theological voice, which is the prophetic voice, the Church becomes unhinged, unanchored in history, and will drift away until it believes itself the pentacle of achievement.

Craddock’s second claim is that “theology prompts preaching to teart subjects of importance and avoid trivia.” Their are dramatic events going on around us. If your preacher is more concerned with giving you magical incantations to always smile and be in good fortune, your preacher is a letting your down. Hurricane Sandy has come and gone over the last week of October. During the first week of November, we are facing a presidential election in the United States. These are major theological issues that should be dealt with long before the ebb and flow of everyday life. I’m not saying that there is not a place for such discussions, but the place is better suited to small group discussions rather than preaching. Let the preacher preach about theodicy and Romans 13. The preacher should discuss Thomas Aquinas and how it influenced the Founding Fathers of the United States and then, perhaps, if that preacher is brave, compare it to how Romans 13 was read by Origen and others — by others when the Church was not the Powers that Be. Craddock, I think, would agree. Theology is about the life we all share; ministry is about the lives we do not.

The third statement by Craddock is lingual. This is one the main reasons I wanted such a class — to avoid my usual habit of lecturing rather than speaking. The author suggests that theology deals with concepts while preaching uses imaging words. Preaching is where theology is explained and applied through the words, not of the philosophers, but of the people in front of you. Indeed, if a preacher uses concepts of theology as methods of instruction, his words are nothing more than cymbalic clashes; but if he uses the words of the divine creation, the creature, they become something that a heavenly chorus. Craddock urges us to use the tongues of those around us — to cease to pretend that the more angelic our words, the closer we are to God. Indeed, it seems the more conceptual our language is, the further away we are from the people, the further away we are from God.

If theology is a revelation from God, we must strive to take it to those who need it as God strove to find us when we needed him the most. In the Garden, God walked in the evening not as the superman, but as one in a triad with Adam and his wife. When Israel needed a guide across the deserts of Egypt, he appeared as a cloud. When the time had come, Jesus was born of a woman as proscribed by law, to bear the sins that we could not. Rarely ever, except when he was angry, did God appear as anything by the basest of things. In the Garden, he was a tired worker, taking a break at the end of the day; for Israel, he was a vaporous cloud, dispelled easily enough; in Jesus, he was a Jewish vagabond with lackluster friends. If we are to bring theology – the progressive revelation of the Church — to those who need to be self-critical, to those who need an anchor, then we must strive to bring it them to where they can reach it. Not below them so that it is meaningless mush, nor above them so that it sounds foreign. But theology must be given in the sermon as applicable to the life of the Christian.

Preaching theology is covered by Craddock as well, but this will have to wait.