Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zizzen me!

One of the perks of parenting is that you can remind your grown up kids of cute things they probably want to forget.

Our older son was very verbal from the get go, forming arguments rather than throwing tantrums. If he became exasperated by our intransigence on some matter, he would make a very serious little face and say, "Zizzen me!" We realized he was just feeding back our own means of taking over conversations, "Listen to me!"

Here we are at midweek. Those who will preach have, I hope, been in prayerful zizzening to Jesus Christ. Too often, we have an idea we want to pitch or an outcome we want to manipulate, and we seek to find a Bible text that either supports our agenda or can be warped so to do. How much more wonderful when we simply zizzen and let Jesus surprise us with something of himself, something he entrusts us to share with the people he loves.

Pastor Mark Gronseth serves the Methodist congregation in Wakonda, SD. His wife was our organist for several months before they moved there, and before leaving Mark brought me a little book called The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen. I started reading it, it got buried in a desk pile, but I recently retrieved it and finished reading. Hansen has some good zizzening advice for preachers:

"My ideas for the church, even those inspired by the Holy Spirit, have no place in the pulpit; they are not the material of proclamation. Jesus Christ is the object of proclamation. Preaching our visions and ideas for the church is cheap leadership, and it is not preaching. But biblical, Christocentric preaching is powerful pastoral leadership...

Christians who hear good preaching learn to 'taste and see that the LORD is good' (Psalm 34:8). They develop a taste for the Word. They love the hear the Word of God, thoughtfully prepared, lovingly presented."

Like parents with a precocious kid, we need to be tickled by Jesus and let him take over our conversation. We need to be zizzening when we prepare a sermon, not just deciding what we want to say.

In Seeking Life, Esther De Waal ponders The Rule of Saint Benedict and finds encouragement to zizzen:

"For I must remember that I am listening to the Word, to Christ. When I think about the voice of Christ I try to recall its various manifestations in his earthly life. I hear it sometimes encouraging and cajoling, at other times challenging and demanding. And then, since my reflections and prayers must inevitably be drawn to the paschal [Christ's Passion and Resurrection] mystery, I think of the voice from the cross where, even at a time of almost unimaginable pain, Christ is calling for forgiveness, making excuses for those who do not realize what they are doing, speaking in what St. Aelred of Rievaulx calls 'that wondrous voice, full of gentleness and love.'"

Zizzen well before you outline, write or otherwise compose that message. Zizzen to the one who loves the people who will hear it, and honors you to deliver it - Him - to them.


Georgia said...

Amen, Fr. Tim! One of your best of many Christ-saturated posts.

Scott said...

Suprised the kids at an inner city high school in Omaha several years back by responding to a question "Fo Shizzle my nizzle". 50% of the kids thought I was cool from that moment on. The other 50% were horrified.

Thankful for your gentle reminders. Have a good Wednesday friends.

Undergroundpewster said...


David Handy+ said...

Thanks, Tim. I'll have to look up both books. I've really appreciated some of Esther de Waal's other stuff on Benedictine spirituality,

However, I'm not sure I agree with the other author that vision casting is never appropriate in the pulpit. Yes, we are to preach Christ, and proclaim the gospel, and not use that sacred time to hawk some petty little church project of our own. But the sermon is the best time for reminding the whole congregation of our mandate to obey the Great Commandment and fulfill the Great Commission, whatever form that may take in a particular parish.

Maybe I'm over-reacting since I haven't read the book and don't know the context of the excerpt you cited. But I'm still glad for the reminder that the flock needs to be fed with the bread of life, not other junk.