like trying to drain the ocean with a spoon

"We should not try to master the text. The Bible will become more and more mysterious to real exegetes. They will see all the depths and distances. They will constantly run up against the mystery before which theology is like trying to drain the ocean with a spoon. The true exegete will face the text like an astonished child in a wonderful garden, not like an advocate of God who has seen all his files" (Karl Barth, Homiletics, p. 128).

not to talk about scripture but from it

"Preaching must be exposition of holy scripture. I have not to talk about scripture but from it. I have not to say something, but merely repeat something .... Our task is simply to follow the distinctive movement of thought in the text, to stay with this, and not with a plan that arises out of it." (Karl Barth, Homiletics, p. 49.)

Not long ago a friend made the comment that my last sermon at University Hill Congregation revealed just how much Karl Barth influences my preaching. It surprised me when he said it because I simply thought of that sermon as how the text (Mark 4:35-41) speaks now, how it demands to be proclaimed. I didn't realize how obvious Barth's influence might be.

Reading some of Barth's thoughts on preaching today I was reminded of that sermon - "To the Other Side". Yes, it is fair to say that while my journey as a preacher began with a desire to make the text as relevant as possible it inevitably shifted to listening for the odd Word of God revealed through scripture. I found my way to this mode of preaching through teachers like Walter Brueggemann and Will Willimon who trace their roots directly to Karl Barth. For that I am grateful.