The Homiletical Canvas: Poetry in Service to Preaching
by Rev. Christopher I. Thoma
Thoma has designed The Homiletical Canvas to help preachers recognize that among God’s people the greatest place for flexing the muscle of creativity is not the rites and ceremonies of public worship, but rather the sermon is the means to meet the need. Here, the preacher can express with colorful ingenuity the vibrant beauty of the Gospel, and he has the opportunity to offer this sacred truth with the voice of a poet. And because the preacher’s primary tool for expression is the spoken word, Thoma examines how language may be used in order that the preacher’s skills improve toward this end, eventually concluding that the study of poetry is crucial to the art of homiletics as a joyful expression of faith. Faith, by its very nature, reaches out for the tools of language (poetry and rhetoric), not despising them, but holding them as means for colorful expression. And with this, men are equipped for “grasping the sacred truths, as well as for handling them skillfully and successfully” (Luther). This is the task of the preacher in the Lord’s church, to take hold of the sacred truths, to handle them skillfully in order that the end result of service, by God’s grace, will be that the hearers receive and remember the pure preaching of God’s Word in its beauty and splendor.
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