Preaching in Times of Crisis by Robert Beamish
All preachers sooner or later will need to preach in the wake of a crisis; this is a helpful contribution to an important topic
Preaching in Times of Crisis
By Robert Beamish
Grove Books Limited
Reviewed by: Jeannie Kendall
I preached my first ever sermon the Sunday after the Dunblane shooting. Meeting someone on the way in, I said to them “What a week to preach my first sermon.” He immediately replied “What better week”.
I have often reflected on these words, and the important part preaching plays in the pastoral care of the congregations we are privileged to serve.
This is the topic of this booklet, one in the helpful series of Grove booklets, and an essential theme since all preachers sooner or later will need to preach in the wake of a crisis, which the author defines as coming from a moment of disturbance or disorientation. He acknowledges that these come in many forms, political and disaster in origin, and local, national, and international. He rightly points out that the preacher is not immune themselves from being impacted by these events, though this might have been helpfully explored further – when, for example, is the preacher too affected to be helpful? He points out the need for silence and reflection, and that our focus is always theological. He outlines what he sees as the core tasks of preaching in crisis: naming the therapeutic presence of God, being real about the different places people are in, keeping preaching in the context of God’s bigger story, and facing the monster, who some of those we are speaking to in the midst of their pain may feel is God. He concludes by giving a possible framework for preaching in times of crisis: naming the pain and the promise.
Inevitably its length means that there will be omissions – I would have liked to have seen more about how the preacher knows they are too impacted and need to step back, self-care for the preacher in holding the emotions of the congregation, and practical aspects such as when to suspend a preaching series to address a crisis, and some suggested texts – there are some books of sermons suggested. However, this booklet is a helpful contribution to an important topic.
Jeannie Kendall is co-minister of Carshalton Beeches Baptist Church