A pew-sitter’s guide to homilies (or sermons, if that’s your thing.)
Since I’ve got some clergy reading my blog, I thought I’d offer a few pointers, since I’ve heard a lot of homilies in my time.
1.) The Golden Rule still holds–don’t rip on other religions, even though your congregation may agree with you. If you’re going to make a point about some other denomination, reverse their name for your denomination’s. Would you want them saying that about your faith?
2.) If a group is disadvantaged–poor, abused, etc–try not to refer to them as weak. I know it means you’re trying to be nice and compassionate–which is appreciated–but it can’t not come off as patronizing.
3.) Don’t preach to the choir. Odds are if someone’s there on a Sunday morning, they agree with you about your denomination’s big bugaboos. (I have a rule of not bringing up the “a” word on my blog, but it holds here.) If the “a” word is brought up by one priest, I don’t listen, because he sticks it in everywhere he can. If another brings it up, I will, because he rarely talks about it.
4.) Humor is a double-edged sword. Either it can wake people up, or it can make your point frivolous. Same with pop culture references.
5.) Battlestar Galactica is an exception to #4. Especially if you debate the theology of the colonials versus the cylons. With documentation from the early Church fathers. We need more BSG in the Church.
6.) Guys, don’t talk about the joys of motherhood. Women, don’t talk about the joys of fatherhood.
7.) The best homilies–like the best lectures–are a story. People like to learn something, but they also want to hear a story. The fact that storytelling is an important way culture, philosophy, and religion is transmitted in so many cultures isn’t an accident.
8.) Doctor Who and Star Trek are also exceptions to #4. Bonus points for referencing Babylon 5.