Speaking with Tim MacBride
I love getting the opportunity to hear people preach. I am also curious about how different people prepare sermons. So with that in mind here are some questions I asked Tim.
Can you think of a sermon that had a significant impact on you? Why has it stayed with you?
Marc Rader’s two part sermon through the entire story of Esther. Firstly, it showed the power of simply telling a Bible story, with a bit of comment, rather than feeling the need to preach each scene in detail. Secondly, the motif of the invisible hand of God that we choose to see (or not see) in our lives was powerful: the point that unlike most stories in the Bible (Esther being an important exception), we don’t have an omniscient biblical narrator explaining how God is at work in our lives, or commenting on why things are happening to us (such as we get in, e.g. the books of Samuel and Kings). We’re just left with the kind of ambiguity with which Esther is narrated, so that we need to choose to respond in faith (or not).
What was your process preparing to preach at Seaforth?
My process in preparing to preach was to dust off a sermon I wrote in 2006 on the same passage and add a few COVID references to make it sound fresh. But if you’re interested in how I prepared the sermon originally: it was part of a four week series in Leviticus. I remember reading all of the purity regulations in chapters 11-15, and the main burning question was… why? As part of my preparation, I read a journal article (which I reference in the sermon) by an OT scholar named Joe Sprinkle, which gives a bunch of potential reasons for the laws. I used those to structure my answer. And at each point I asked if the reason was still valid for us, post-Jesus, or whether the coming of Jesus had rendered them obsolete. (Spoiler: the answer is “mostly.” But there’s still much we can learn about the character of God.) Since the first time I preached it, this material hangs out in my lectures each year when we come to Acts chapter 15 – which is where the early church was trying to work out whether to impose the law of Moses on Gentile converts.
Do you think sermons still have a role in a church’s worship gathering? Why/why not?
Yes, I do. Glad you asked. You can read all about it here: In (Partial) Defence of the Monologue Sermon.