Friday, September 16, 2011

Our theme for this issue of Liturgy: The State of Liturgical Renewal is composed in the midst of the era of western Christianity’s loss of cultural hegemony. In 2001, Craig A. Satterlee called readers of our journal to consider what insights might be gained by examining the homiletical techniques of some great preachers from the extreme opposite end of this period of history: John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia.

The mystagogical preachers knew that it is only when people meaningfully incorporate the church’s rites into their own lives that they successfully enter the world of salvation history. In making liturgy and sacrament understandable to their hearers, the preachers therefore spoke to the real life circumstances that form the basis by which hearers discover a relationship between the rites and their lives. The preachers could articulate what difference participating in the sacraments makes in ordinary lives. Thus Chrysostom, recognizing the church’s struggle to maintain its unique identity in the face of peace with the Roman Empire, used the words and symbolic actions of the liturgy as an identity-producing representation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in order to show how the past events of the life, passion, and death of Jesus are revealed in the daily challenges that life in the secular city presents to the Christian. By explaining the liturgy in terms of daily struggle, Chrysostom offered the possibility of carrying the power of Christ’s dying and rising into life in the world. Theodore used the same liturgical signs to point to the future…For Theodore, the liturgy is the message of hope, and liturgical signs
are symbols of the hope of the world to come.
How must our current preaching and other forms of pedagogy change in order to make the church’s liturgy and sacraments both accessible and transformative in a post-Christian culture?

Craig A. Satterlee (2001): "Drawing life from the Well of Liturgical Experience, Liturgy, 16:4, 48-49.

Craig A. Satterlee serves as professor of homiletics at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and dean of the ACTS Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program. He is the author of several books, most recently Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God's Invitation to Grow.

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