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A good preacher of poetry does for listeners what a gallery guide might do for me: lead me beyond first impressions, cause me to slow down and start to feel with the artist.
Last time we looked at the preacher as a video painter, particularly when preaching biblical narratives. Let’s add another metaphor that will not become a classic, but may be helpful for now:
A Gallery Guide – When you are preaching biblical poetry it may be helpful to think of yourself as a guide in an art gallery. You might be thinking that you don’t enjoy art galleries so perhaps you should skip this point, but hang in there. Poetry is powerful.
Through stirring imagery and crafted structure, listeners are moved in a way that prose could never achieve. When biblical poetry does its work, it can really work in the heart and mind of a listener.
So what is the preacher to do? Are we supposed to strip out those poetic features and coldly present the results of our analysis of an ancient poem? Or are we supposed to preach that poem in words that help the listeners to appreciate the depth of feeling and thought that was stirring in the artist’s heart and life as he wrote the poem?
A good preacher of poetry does for listeners what a gallery guide might do for me: lead me beyond first impressions, cause me to slow down and start to feel with the artist as he or she begins to plumb the depths of the piece before me.
When the preacher does that, he allows the text to do what the text was inspired and designed to do. There is more to preaching poetry than that, but there shouldn’t be less.
Next time we will add one more metaphor. Feel free to make up your own in the comments … I might even develop it as a post (giving you credit, of course).