On the radio there was a recent discussion about whether or not the Bible and the sermons produced from it could be viewed as literature. This led me to revisit some thoughts I had had many years ago. I wondered if the preachers were more like actors than newsreaders.
You see, in some places that I have worshipped the preacher has had more dramatic flair than some of the people I see on either stage or screen. The pastors build up the tension. They stalk the platform like tigers ready to pounce on some unsuspecting prey, and they do just that – they deliver a killer verse to a nodding congregant.
They are snapped into alertness and all the focus is drawn back to the centre of the stage.
The pastor then recaptures the attention of the entire audience, bringing them back into his web of rapt attention with a few select moves (cunningly disguised as amusing anecdotes) after which he builds to another crescendo before dangling them above the open jaws of the devouring beast he has cleverly pictured; the one that will destroy them if they don’t do exactly as he says.
To complete his act as hero he draws his sword of truth and despatches the monster. The congregants all breathe breaths of relief as they relax in the safe knowledge that they have nothing left to fear as long as they follow the lead of the hero in his slick suit and silk socks.
After witnessing one such entertaining sermon, I was discussing the drama of preaching with my son and he said, “It’s like going to the theatre every week ... but without paying!”