Something more from the Sermon: Poems and PowerPoints


Yesterday, we were looking at the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis 2 and 3, and exploring the theological/philosophical/sociological idea of “goodness.” I had a great time with this sermon. It was really the first time I was given a green light to talk about Adam and Eve in a sermon format.

First, a note of correction. I went on and on about the Hebrew word for “woman” in Genesis 2 and pronounced it incorrectly at 2nd service. It is “ish-ah” not “ish-ma.” 1000 apologies.

I spent a bit of time (not enough) looking at how Paul outlined redemption in Ephesians 2:1-10. In verse 10, Paul called Christians the “handiwork” of God. The Greek word poiema rings of something like “poem.”

So, I made a point to say that we are God’s “poems and not God’s PowerPoint presentations.” I didn’t have time to work all of that idea out. Such a theopoetic, rather than a precise-critical statement, needs a bit more work to convey the meaning.

Poems and PowerPoints are both mediums of communication. Truth is conveyed in each. However, we’d agree that there are certainly things that are suited for PowerPoints and things that are suited for Poems.

It’s my contention that much of Christianity is expressed through a PowerPoint-type of communication. (Note: I’m referring to the essence of communication rather than churches actually using the Microsoft program, itself.) Christianity is presented as facts, with coined sayings and predictable habits in a PowerPoint format. There is nothing wrong with presenting Christianity in a “just the facts, ma’am,” format. We simply need to be reminded that the medium is the message, too.

I want to be involved in a Christianity of the Poem, where a wider variety of vocabulary, imagery, and prose is leveraged to present its meaning. We are talking about the greatest story ever told, aren’t we? We might as well use all that we can to get the job done.

To put it another way. Do you remember that powerful scene in the film Contact where a Jodie Foster’s character, a scientist, looks out of a window from her space ship at the expanse of the universe? She kept repeating the phrase, “They should have sent a Poet. I have no words. So beautiful… so beautiful…”

There are so many things in life that a scientist can explain and we are grateful for them. There are other things, things which our words have trouble containing (and places where angels fear to tread), where we need the gifts of a poet to draw us closer.

Imagine, then, attempting to describe the micro and macro redemptive works that God does in this world. A poem may be fuzzy and it may escape our complete comprehension, but it certainly is enough to lead us to worship such an amazing God.

Each of us is a poem, one that the Creator is crafting through our windy road of experiences. Perhaps the role of the Church is to simply to help curate the process of each life around us and to allow God’s peculiar presence to be experienced through the careful construction of each story.


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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