Some of you might not be aware that I've started the journey into becoming a certified Methodist Local Preacher. It really is as exciting as it sounds.
I met with my tutor earlier this week, and one of our discussion topics was the following quote from John Killinger (1985; Fundamentals of Preaching, London:SCM):
"The preacher's first calling... is to love."
Aside from the fact that this was written before I was born, and ignoring that fact that we haven't got to the section about "context" yet, I'm not sure I agree.
Who am I supposed to be loving? God? Myself? Scripture? The Church? Those outside the church? The Kingdom? All of it? It's a cop out word really to use it on its own... Surely these things are all a given?
Then there's the fact that love doesn't mean the same to us all. What sort of preacher am I expected to be if my first calling is love? What is the congregation expecting? Are they expecting tough love or me to tell them that everything is ok? Are they willing to hear that love hurts, and that in order to love them well I need to preach not only the fluffy Jesus but the temple wrecking Jesus? Not just the forgiving Jesus but the rebuking Jesus who comes before the forgiving? Not just the Jesus who deals with the sick gently, but the Jesus who deals with the pharisaical and the haughty harshly? Are they ready for that? Because surely that's the sort of love I'm learning about.
But what else is it about if it's not primarily about love?
I haven't decided yet... But I'm leaning towards the primary calling being "learning".
What if my primary calling is to discover, to be teachable and willing to learn? What if it is my first calling to immerse myself in God, to be malleable to who he is calling me be, and responsive to that which he imparts on me to share with others? If I stop learning the depths of God and discovering His heart, do I really have anything left to give as a preacher?
I'll keep thinking for now...
Remarcable is one man blogging about Youth Work, Theology, Family, Life and those other random things that come to mind.