WORLD, CHURCH AND PREACHING by Joseph Nolan ($19.95)


"When I began the Good News homily service almost a quarter century ago, I wanted to talk about preaching and worship with its readers as well as provide homily models, prayers, and commentaries. I have done that by giving seminars all over, and each month by writing a four-page letter that subscribers have nicknamed "the green sheet." What you have in your hands is a generous sampling: editorials, reviews of important books, reports from excellent journals, preaching methods, shared expertise, and opinions on worship, of which preaching is part. I share these reflections now for several reasons.

"They have been well received. We don't talk enough with each other as professional people. And my observations come from a full life of reading, thinking, studying, teaching, ministry and (before the priesthood) of lay occupations in the world of government and military service. I have preached as a Roman Catholic pastor "in towns and little towns," at military bases, in Protestant churches and a Jewish synagogue, and now at St. Ignatius church adjoining the Boston College campus. My other great input into the subjects I discuss with you comes from teaching theology there to undergraduates. Some wag said (correctly), "I don't know that subject; I haven't taught it yet." One more input: there is a stage in your life when you find yourself burying your friends' parents, presiding at the marriage of their children, and baptizing the progeny. They are all occasions of grace and truth.

"I have regrouped the subjects in this retrospect, but there is inevitably some repetition. That's OK; my defense comes from the country preacher who explained his success thus: "First, I tell them what I'm going to tell them. Then I tell them. Then I tell them what I told them." That's not a recipe for boredom; think how long it takes you, even going through the three-year cycle of readings eight times, to overcome biblical fundamentalism or the right explanation of flesh and spirit in Paul. Or resurrection. Or the kingdom of God.

"The biggest section is on method: how does one become a good preacher? Perhaps the answer is to be a black Baptist; they rightly lead the list of outstanding preachers of the word! There are many answers, of course. We are basically trying to make sense of existence, wonderfully equipped for the task with God's word and Christ's deed. The second largest section is on worship. Often we forget that preaching is worship. There is a bread we break which is Christ's body, and another bread which is the word. Of all the definitions of preaching, I like best the one from David H. C. Reid: "preaching is a sacramental moment when the Holy Spirit uses the bread and wine of ordinary speech to bring us into the presence of God." - Joseph T. Nolan (from the Preface)

Chapters include:

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