Homiletical Plot x Anzac Biscuits
While working my way through Eugene L. Lowry‘s The Homilectical Plot, i experimented with Anzac biscuits for homesick Aussies/Kiwis. They would have been laid out for post-service morning tea tomorrow, except that housemates and neighbours made short work of a good proportion of the misshapen stuff. In the name of taste-testing of course.
Have been thinking much about sermon structures. The School teaches the classic 3-pointer with illustrations, topped by an introduction, tailed by application as conclusion. i’ve constantly challenged this in my practice classes (resulting in very sad reports). While agreeing that the classic 3-pointer does give a clear structure to the talk, most talks that fit within the mould are merely lectures, not proclamation. They teach people the passage (and fit in Christ somehow – sometimes with a crowbar) but do not persuade.
Lowry makes an interesting case for the sermon being a sequence of experiences on the part of the hearers that mirrors the experiences of a typical narrative or plot form, moving from conflict through complication to crisis and finally to resolution. He envisages roughly five stages:
- upsetting the equilibrium – tension; ambiguity; catching people in the depths of the awful discrepancies/predicaments of their world – social and personal (note that this is different from preaching to scratch felt needs);
- analysing the discrepancy – why? motive? moving from superficial analysis to in-depth diagnosis; building listener readiness for resolution – even by the inclusion of analytical “dead ends”; engaging the congregation at the level of popularly held views which may then be abandoned together in favour of more thoughtful analysis until at last the decisive clue to resolution is revealed (stage 3). This can be in the form of an image, a story, or an argument;
- disclosing the clue to the resolution – usually a reversal (eg. cause-effect reversal; inverted cause reversal; inverted assumption reversal; inverted logic reversal);
- experiencing the gospel (not about answering people’s every felt need but the good news of the gospel involves a transformation of human experience); and
- anticipating the future – as a consequence of the intersection of human predicament with the gospel; being made new by the good news.
Another toy for the sandbox. And there are yet others: Fred Craddock’s inductive preaching, Tom Troeger’s episodal sermons, David Buttrick’s phenomenological moves. Tools to be wielded with discernment and care, and loads of prayer, to get God’s word into God’s people. But not many more practice talks to experiment/annoy tutors with now!
Anzac Biscuits (not quite Donna Hay’s recipe)
1.3 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain all-purpose baking flour
just short of 1 cup unrefined sugar + a bit of caster sugar
125g butter (chopped)
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp boiling water
1 heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.
2. Combine the sugar, coconut, rolled oats and flour in a large mixing bowl.
3. Combine butter with golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until butter melts.
4. Measure out hot water in a cup, add bicarb, then pour into butter/syrup mixture in the saucepan. Mixture will froth.
5. Add butter mixture to dried ingredients. Add vanilla essence. Stir gently to combine. (The dough should be quite wet – perfect for creating a flat and chewy-cripsy Anzac.)
6. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on a tray. Flatten balls with your hand. Make sure you don’t place the balls too closely together.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
8. Leave on tray for a while to harden before transferring to a cooling rack.
Snapshots Along the Way