Congregational Preaching
Homiletics 661B
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary
Syllabus
Fall Term
Class Sessions: Thursdays, 1:30 PM - 3:20 PM

 

Prof. David Schnasa Jacobsen
Phone: 519-884-1970, x3493

E-mail: djacobse@wlu.ca
Office Hours: by appointment, or when the door is open...

 

Learning Goals:
This course is designed with recurring parish preaching in view. It presupposes the Sunday to Sunday work of the parish pastor in preaching and the probability of recurring situations in which the gospel (the “good news,” not the final lection in the ecumenical order) must be preached in a way both clear and arresting. To deal with both of these presuppositions, the course will deal with preaching the gospel when some situational feature of congregational life demands attention.

 

In whatever situation, the preaching task will be viewed as a theological one, i.e., as an opportunity for discerning the import of and articulating the gospel anew in a given situation. Thus students will be equipped to be "theologians of the Word" who can interpret situations from a variety of viewpoints, evaluate the usefulness of various tools for preaching in light of the gospel and then employ them fruitfully. In order to do this, we will work on the following tools:

1. Bringing to critical awareness our own understandings of the gospel,
2. Developing skills and resources as theologians in residence in a parish, and
3.
Developing skills and resources as homiletical exegetes of situations.

As a result students should develop greater pastoral sensitivity, rhetorical savvy and think-on-your-feet theological acumen while preparing for preaching in a congregation. To meet these learning goals, the instructor is more than happy to help students individually.

 

Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier's Special Needs Office for information regarding its services and resources. Students are encouraged to review the Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus. Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism. Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.

 

Required Texts:
Allen, Ron. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis: Chalice, 1998.
Hedahl, Susan.  Preaching the Wedding Sermon.  St. Louis: Chalice, 2000.

Hughes, Robert.  A Trumpet in Darkness: Preaching to Mourners.  Mifflintown: Sigler, 1997.

McClure, John and Nancy Ramsay, eds.  Telling the Truth.  Cleveland: United Church, 1998.

 

Recommended Text (for extra credit book review):
Hilkert, Mary Catherine. Naming Grace. New York: Continuum, 1997.


Schedule:

 

Session 1 (September 11)         First Hour:        Review of Syllabus and Course Requirements
Second Hour:   Lecture/Discussion on the Hermeneutical Spiral

For next session read Kelly handout

 

Session 2 (September 18)         First Hour:        Theology of the Gospel
Second Hour:   Models of Situational Sermons

Review chapters 8 and 22-29 in Allen’s Patterns of Preaching

 

Session 3 (September 25)         Guest presenters: Rev. Nancy Kelly, Rev. Bill Schafer

For next session prepare Assignment #1

 

Session 4 (October 2)              Hand in and present Assignment #1 in class

For next session read Hughes’ A Trumpet in Darkness

 

Session 5 (October 9)              First Hour:        Discuss Hughes’ book

                                                Second Hour:   Preaching the Gospel in Funeral Homilies

For next session prepare Assignment #2, a funeral homily based on a case study

 

Session 6 (October 16)            Both hours:       Assignment #2, Funeral homilies in class

For next session read Hedahl’s Preaching the Wedding Sermon

 

Session 7 (October 23)            First Hour:        Discuss Hedahl’s Book
Second Hour:   Preaching the Gospel in Wedding Homilies

For next session prepare Assignment #3, a wedding homily based on a case study

 

Session 8 (October 30)            Both Hours:      Assignment #3, Wedding homilies ____________

 

Session 9 (November 6)           First Hour:        Gospel and Situations

                                                Second Hour:   Situational Preaching Models.

Before next session review Allen and choose one situational sermon model or develop your own for your presentation and sermon in class in consultation with instructors

 

Session 10 (November 13)       Situational Sermon Presentations (   ____       ____             )

 

Session 11 (November 20)       Guest Session with Prof. Allen Jorgensen:  Resources for Theologians in Residence in the Parish (That’s you!)

 

Session 12 (November 27)       Situational Sermon Presentations (   ____       ____             )

 

Session 13 (December 4)         First Hour:        Situational Sermon Presentations, if needed           

                                                Second Hour:   Evaluations and Eschatological Party Time

 

 


Assignments:


Assignment #1: Your Theology of the Gospel
Bring a one or two page statement of your theology of the gospel, make copies for all the class, and prepare to present and field questions on it. The assumption in our class is that a clear understanding of the gospel we preach is important for responding homiletically to situations. So tell us: what is the gospel?  You may use an image or story to supplement your theological language and claims.
Date Due: Session 4 (October 2)--Grade: 10%

 

Assignment #2:  Funeral Homily

Prepare a five to ten minute funeral homily for class based on a case study that you will describe to the class before preaching.  The case study should represent a funeral situation that could plausibly occur in a context you might serve.  Sermons will be graded on their ability to articulate the gospel in light of the life of the deceased and the pastoral-theological context.  A manuscript of your homily with a brief one-page description of your case study is due to your instructor’s box at 1 PM the day before class (Wednesday).

Date Due: day before Session 6 (October 15)–Grade: 20% 

 

Assignment #3: Wedding Homily

Prepare a five to ten minute wedding homily for class based on a case study that you will describe to the class before preaching.  The case study should represent a wedding situation that could plausibly occur in a context you might serve.  Sermons will be graded on their ability to articulate the gospel in light of the life of the couple’s relationship and the wider pastoral-theological context.  A manuscript of your homily with a brief one-page description of your case study is due to your instructor’s box at 1 PM the day before class (Wednesday).

Date Due: day before Session 8 (October 29)–Grade: 30% 

 

Assignment #4: Situational Sermon Presentation

The situation you choose should represent a situation that could plausibly occur in a context you might serve.  Student presentations on parish situations will need to include three components:
(1) A photocopy for each student in class of your annotated bibliography of homiletical resources for your topic in the library. This way, everyone will already have a file on hand for several pastoral and liturgical situations in your first parish or internship. As you assemble and write the bibliography, try to think what might be helpful to a parish pastor in a given situation (5 min.). 
(2) A brief presentation (10-15 min.) on the topic that treats:

a) theological issues (which theological loci are involved?)
b) pastoral,  contextual, and situational issues
c) homiletical problems, goals, and strategies for reaching those goals
d) necessary planning and follow-through in the congregation
(3) A sermon manuscript for or in that situation to be preached in class (10-15 min.).

Sermon manuscripts are to be handed in to your professor's office by 1 PM the day before you preach (that means Wednesday!). For the sermon in this track we will be trying out one of Ron Allen's various schemas for topical preaching or one that you agree upon with David. The sermon will be graded in light of its theological adequacy and homiletical fit and effectiveness. Above all, however, each sermon will be graded by how well hearers hear the gospel. Therefore, we will also take a few minutes minutes after each sermon for all of us to respond.

Date Due: day before Session 10, 12 or 13 (Nov. 12, Nov 26, or Dec 3 by 1 PM)–Grade: 40% of total

 

Possible Topics for Assignment #4

 

Community/Nation Crisis Preaching

Congregational Crisis Preaching

Preaching on Social Issues

Doctrinal Sermon

Preaching on Conflict

Contentious Issues

Preaching on the Sacraments

Evangelistic Preaching

Stewardship Sermon

Childrens’ Sermons

Preaching on Ethical Issues.............................or others, in consultation with your prof

 


Grading

 

Fear not. Grading is designed to maximize possibilities for growth in learning. Really.

 

There are two ways of getting a good grade.  The obvious one is to do well on all of the assignments.  Since the percentage weight increases with each assignment there is margin for error.  Ergo, feel free to sin boldly.

 

Students who also demonstrate a clear improvement in their work by the end of the semester will also be eligible for a higher grade. But don't try dogging the first one as a way of getting by cheaply at the end.

 

The upshot is that students should try their best. A bad grade for any one assignment is not a death sentence. What is our motto?: "per fidem ambulamus." So walk by faith and don't worry.

 

If, despite all this, you are still worried about your grade, please contact me for extra credit options. Reading and reviewing Mary Catherine Hilkert's excellent book (see recommended text above) will nudge up your grade by ˝ letter. A "B-" will magically become a "B" , and an "A" will transfigure before you eyes into the bright-white brilliance of an "A +" An option for those wanting a third hour’s credit is to do another sermon, this time using a new method (perhaps from Allen) or one that develops a homiletical approach of your own to a lectionary text.

 

Nonetheless, I must offer two caveats.

 

First, the successful completion of this course requires that you submit on time your theology of the gospel. A late paper will drag down your final grade by ˝ letter. Ouch!  Second, since pastors always have to produce weekly sermons regardless of circumstances, late sermon manuscripts (that means, after 1 PM on the Monday before you present and/or preach) will result in an automatic reduction of grade by one full letter and missed presentations will result in a grade of F. Your professor also reserves the right to sigh, grumble, and/or harrumph when late materials are submitted. So there.