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"900 Words": initial reflections of an emerging editor.

I'm spending my Sundays preaching in a congregation that is earnestly hoping that their bishop will give them a pastor for Christmas. Their eyes are peeled for any sign of activity; their ears are attuned for any whisper of news. They hang on for any hint of their future. As I ponder preaching in the Advent and Christmas seasons, I wonder: What could possibly make us that anxious and expectant for the coming of the Christ? A healthy dose of uncertainty, perhaps? How about some honest-to-goodness fretting over the future? Or maybe what we need is some overwhelming good news!

Here it is! To a world in which peace seems to be slipping, to a nation in which unemployment is on the rise, to congregations who know in their hearts that, if they keep on being who they are, they will someday cease to be, to pastors who are just plain tired, to people sick and shunned, oppressed and afraid, Christ comes! Christ comes as a babe so that God knows what it is to be human. Christ comes in Word and Sacrament so that we know how much we are loved. Christ comes in glory to make all creation whole and safe. All around us we find uncertainty and fretting. When we spend prayerful time with the readings, the good news of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany leaves us overwhelmed. Perhaps that's how we might spend some time this fall as we prepare ourselves to prepare God's people. Two fine contributors bring purpose to our prayers and offer counsel as we contemplate.

Glenn Monson is Pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Austin, Minnesota. A second-career pastor, Glenn played trombone professionally for more than fifteen years before beginning his studies at Luther Seminary. I came to know Glenn through his work in the ACTS Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program, of which he is a recent graduate. In the course of his doctoral work, Glenn explored new forms of preaching, on one occasion effectively bringing his horn into the pulpit, and revealed new insights into the essential role that our listeners play in creating meaning in the preaching event. Glenn is married to Ruth and the father of Abby and Catherine. Glenn will be guiding us through Advent.

For Christmas and Epiphany, we accompany Aaron Couch, co-pastor at First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon. Aaron describes himself as a father, a husband, and a pastor. I knew Aaron in seminary and am delighted to come to know him again through one of my teaching partners, Melinda Wagner, who is Aaron's spouse and co-pastor at First Immanuel. Before attending Trinity Seminary, Aaron studied ancient Semitic language and literature, gifts he ably shares with us.

As I complete my first attempt at editing Preaching Helps, I find myself joyously fretting over my own uncertainties. For thirteen years as a parish pastor, I cherished this pre-chat room for preachers both for exegetical insights that are concise and relevant and for pastoral perspectives that both affirm and stretch me. I remember fondly the days of "prophetic reflections," which always turned the texts--and me--upside down! It is a bit humbling to assume the stewardship of a resource that many like myself find essential to a task and calling so important. I am grateful to Robert Smith for his own care of this coming together of preachers around God's Word and for being my wise and gentle guide as we make this transition. In one e-mail conversation, Bob mused that it might be time to consider giving Preaching Helps a new name. While that may have been good for Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter, I have come to trust the name Preaching Helps as a faithful witness both to the gospel and to the power, promise, and privilege of preaching. I want to express my gratitude to my colleagues, Ralph Klein and Kadi Billman, for entrusting me with this task.

For years I wanted to write for Preaching Helps. I sort of felt I owed it to everyone from whom I was borrowing. I wondered how one gets the chance, whom one needs to know, what's the secret handshake. So, please, let me be clear. If you are interested in writing and have been waiting for an invitation, if you can name a voice that we need to hear, if you've written before and want to indicate how much you enjoyed it, please drop me a note at LSTC. I'd appreciate your partnership as we cultivate a company of contributors. How wonderful it would be to be overwhelmed by a long waiting list!

My biggest learning as an emerging editor is not to count the minutes, as I do as part of my preparation to climb into the pulpit, but instead to count the words. We're allotted an average of 1,200 per Sunday. That's 400 words for each pericope, 200 for exegesis and 200 for pastoral reflection. That's short. It requires clarity in thought, precision of language, deciding what's important and committing to that decision. I guess writing for Preaching Helps isn't that different from preaching, after all. As for this introductory essay, Peggy Eldredge, my other wise and gentle guide in this transition, indicates that I'm allotted 900 words. Clicking File > Properties > Information, I find that I'm eighteen words over! Do you think I need to go back and edit?

Craig A. Satterlee, Editor of Preaching Helps Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago 1100 E. 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615
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Title Annotation:Preaching Helps
Author:Satterlee, Craig A.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Previous Article:Lutheran Book of Worship: a Gift of the Church.
Next Article:First Sunday in Advent November 30, 2003.

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