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Sermon introductions

It's confession time:  I began my sermon tonight with ""a joke"".  You know, feed-line, punch-line, wait for response, polite church laughter, tenuous link to sermon.

ugggh.  I think I need a shower.

I post this quotation as penance.  Here's Barth warning us all away from such 'plain heresy':

The theological damage of sermon introductions is in any event incredibly extensive… For what do they really involve at root?  Nothing other than the search for a point of contact, for an analogue in us which can be a point of entry for the Word of God.  It is believed that this little door to the inner self must first be found and opened before it is worthwhile to bring the message.  No! This is plain heresy…. We have simply to approach people knowing that there is nothing in them that we can address, no humanum, no analogia entis of any kind that we can put in touch with the divinum, but only the one great possibility which has no need of our skills, which alone is efficacious, and which does not need us as advocates… We have simply to assume the attitude of a messenger who has something to say.  We have no need to build a slowly ascending ramp, for there is no height that we have to reach.  No!  Something has to come down from above.  And this can happen only when the Bible speaks from the very outset. (Homiletics, p124-125)

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