The Pastor's Desk (Episode 26)

The pastor's desk pictured below belongs to Ray Hollenbach, a "former-pastor-turned-writer." That's the official title. His unofficial title is "Vagrant."

Ray is also an author (his book, The Impossible Mentor: Finding Courage to Follow Jesus, has been reviewed on the Desperate Pastor, here), blogger, and consultant.

(If you would like to participate in this recurring feature on the Desperate Pastor blog, submit a single photo of a pastor's study, office, or desk--but no tidying up before taking the picture, mind you--to, along with a short description identifying to whom it belongs)

Giving Blood: A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching

Leonard Sweet is one of less than a handful of writers I am compelled to read every time they come out with a new book. His new book, Giving Blood: A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching, is an example of why that is the case.

It is fresh, as the subtitle promises. It is thorough. It is creative and entertaining and deep. True to one of his recurring themes (the importance of narrative and metaphor--or, as he coins it, "narraphor"), he structures and spices the book with the metaphor of blood. Preaching, he says, is "a sacrificial act," and the preacher is "someone who gives the blood of Christ to the body of Christ." Artfully switching metaphors in his introduction, he writes:
Preaching is the discipline and craft of turning water into Cana wine and decanting the old, aged-to-perfection Jesus wine into new bottles. Preaching is the primary means whereby the miracle of Cana continues, as Jesus turns our life from water--tasteless, colorless, odorless--into homemade vintage wine, known for its vibrant flavor, vivid sparkle, and alluring aroma.
He covers pretty much everything in the book, from why to preach to how to preach (returning to his memorable acrostic, EPIC, to promote experiential, participatory, image-rich, and connective ways of communicating) to overcoming obstacles and more. He includes "interactives" (where he offers rich further possibilities for involvement, exploration, and development) as well as labs, in which he walks the reader through a sermon-building or sermon-giving process. And he does it all with his usual flair for language, humor, and creativity.

Giving Blood is a great book on preaching that I hope and pray will lead to more great preaching. We need it.

Seven Stanzas for Easter

This masterpiece, by John Updike, has become an Easter tradition on the Desperate Pastor blog:
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

It's Friday...But Sunday's Coming

S.M. Lockridge's powerful sermon combined with footage from The Passion Of The Christ:

The Popes' Library to Be Shared...With You!

This is a fascinating and exciting article that should be of interest to pastors, theologians, and pretty much anyone interested in the church and the Bible.

According to the piece, "one of the richest and most important collections of historical texts in the world will [soon] be available with a click of the mouse—and free." The article goes on to state:
The plan marks a revolution for an institution known as the Popes' Library, which houses more than 82,000 manuscripts, some dating back to the second century. Scholars must now submit a detailed request to gain access to the library, which sits within the Vatican walls. The most precious works of art, such as a 1,600-year old manuscript displaying Virgil's poems once studied by Raphael, have been mostly off-limits.
This is great news for lovers of the Good News...and for lovers of art, books, scholarship, church history, and more. Read the whole article here; it's worth it.

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