Monday, October 29, 2007

The Use of Voice and Posture in Worship, III

This is the third part of the seminar I gave at the St. Michael Conference at Redeemer in Fort Wayne, Indiana, last month. It is not a finished paper, only lecture notes.

III. Thesis: Preaching is a New Testament phenomenon.

It is hard to find references to preaching at all in the Old Testament. One notable exception is Jonah, who is told to “go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee” (Jonah 3:2).

This is an interesting exception to the general rule that the Old Testament does not emphasize preaching, in that it is preaching to Gentiles, and that furthermore St. Peter is specifically called the “son of Jonah” when he is given the Keys (St. Matthew 16). Jonah’s preaching is a preview of the preaching of the New Testament, and the preaching of Peter.

It is my contention that the preaching of the Gospel is the primary mark of the age of the coming of the Messiah. Consider the final mark of the coming of God listed in Isaiah 35: "the poor have the Gospel preached unto them." In fact, when Jesus says, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah," I think it entirely admissible that, as some commentators have suggested, He was not referring to Jonah's "burial" in the belly of the fish for three days before being vomited out alive on the shore, but to Jonah's preaching.

Preaching is meant to reveal what has for ages been hidden: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:26). As such it serves the same purpose as the New Testament itself.

Indeed the Mass is the New Testament, as the Words of Christ indicate (this is the new testament in my blood), so therefore it belongs with the Mass as a critical ingredient. So the sermon should never be free from what is transpiring in the Mass.

Moreover, when one preaches, he will do well to have in mind this understanding of the phenomenon of preaching itself: he is partaking in a monumental event which was hidden for ages, but is now being carried out as a New Testament event.

Recall how Jesus said, on an occasion when the apostles came back from their preaching, "I saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven."

This knowledge of what preaching is should help dictate how the preacher behaves in the pulpit.

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