Preaching in the New Millennium

Preaching in the New Millennium: Celebrating the Tercentennial of Yale University

Edited by Frederick J. Streets
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Preaching in the New Millennium
    Book Description:

    In this collection of sermons, fifteen distinguished religious leaders reflect upon the moral, social, and political nature of our time. The sermons originated during the Tercentennial celebrations at Yale University, and they provide a vivid snapshot of the rich religious history of Yale and its contribution to the character of our nation.Some of America's most prominent religious figures are here, among them William Willimon, William Sloane Coffin, Peter Gomes, Gardner Taylor, and Barbara Brown Taylor. Their sermons offer valuable religious and intellectual insights into our national consciousness both before and after the tragedies of September 11, 2001. In a lively introduction to the volume, Rev. Frederick J. Streets sets the collection in context and contemplates the past and present nature of religious life at Yale.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12817-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)
    Frederick J. Streets

    Preaching in the New Millenniumis a collection of sermons preached in the historic and beautiful Battell Chapel at Yale University during the spring and fall of 2001 in recognition of the university’s three-hundredth anniversary and beginning of its fourth century. Battell Chapel was built in 1878 and is also the home of the Church of Christ in Yale, which was founded by the university in 1757. The church is a member of the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination.

    There is no one history of Yale but many histories of the various ways it has evolved since its...

  5. They Left Everything and Followed Him
    (pp. 18-27)
    Frederick J. Streets

    Since Yale’s beginning, graduates of Yale College, many of whom were motivated by their religious convictions, and later in Yale’s history alumni of the Divinity School, have given remarkable service in various areas of public and private life here in the United States and around the world. Yale has nurtured distinguished religious leaders of the church, community, and academy throughout its history. There have been preachers among each generation of Yale graduates, some of whose voices have been heard here on this campus since the mid-1700s and in Battell Chapel after it was built in 1878.

    The religious history of...

  6. Blessed Are the Poor
    (pp. 28-34)
    Harry B. Adams

    An article in theNew York Timesrecently described the desperate efforts that some parents make in order to get their children into the “right” nursery school. There seems to be widespread conviction that if the children don’t get into a particular nursery school, they will never make it into a “right” elite college. There also seems to be the conviction that if children don’t get into a “right” college, their lives will be blighted at best, and not worth living at worst. Obviously, at least to some, this university would be included on any self-respecting list of “right” colleges....

  7. Death in the Academy
    (pp. 35-41)
    Robert L. Johnson

    I want to speak this morning about death in the academy: both the death of dying and what Walker Percy termed “the living death.” After some forty years of ministry in a university setting, I have come to the conclusion that the occasion of death is the single most teachable (or should I say “preachable”?) moment for a university chaplain.

    Of course, my seminary education should have taught me that. Paul Tillich forcefully argued that there are three basic threats to human existence: death, guilt, and meaninglessness. Death was the primary threat to ancient civilization and was addressed by both...

  8. Truth Is Told: This Is Our Story
    (pp. 42-49)
    Jewelnel Davis

    On this occasion I want to reflect upon the importance of hearing the story of women as part of our common life as a community of faith.

    When the names are called of the great forebears of the Jewish tradition and the Christian faith, the litany almost invariably begins, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” If efforts are being made to be inclusive of forefathers and foremothers, the litany may include matriarchs of significant importance. So the inclu sive litany goes “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel” . . . Hagar? Hagar, a woman able to discern and name the God...

  9. Be As Christ in the World
    (pp. 50-57)
    Victoria Matthews

    I speak to you in the name of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

    This preaching series is called “Preaching in the New Millennium,” and indeed the community is poised at a moment in history in which the mission of the church needs to look forward. It is also a time, in Easter time, when we celebrate the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such potential can hardly be imagined if only we knew how to harvest it. We live at a time when we know there is enough food in the world to feed all...

  10. Cliff’s Notes for the Journey
    (pp. 58-67)
    Eileen W. Lindner

    Beloved, will you pray with me: O God not my words but your Word, not our will but your will; not our needs alone but the needs of all your people be before us this day, in the name of the Christ, we pray. Amen.

    Now last week we learned the sad news of the passing of the founder ofCliff’s Notes.You rememberCliff’s Notes?Now, there is nary a one of us who did not come up short from time to time in our school careers and call uponCliff’s Notes.What wasCliff’s Notesabout?Cliff’s Notes...

  11. The Power of a Changed Mind
    (pp. 68-75)
    Cynthia A. Terry

    The tenth chapter of Acts is a marvelous story, leading into a powerful sermon preached by Peter. Unfortunately, the sermon part of the chapter is all that is included in the lectionary, while the story leading to the sermon is left out. Meaning that most of us never get to hear the story, only the resulting theology. The message of the sermon is crucial—it marks when Peter, for the first time, acknowledges that Gentiles are included in the new vision of God’s kingdom created by Jesus. Prior to this point, Peter has been absolutely rigid in believing that the...

  12. Friends of the Disciples
    (pp. 76-86)
    Barbara Brown Taylor

    If any of you came here this morning believing that you were disciples of Jesus Christ, then I guess that you know better now. Of course I may be wrong. Has anyone here cut yourself off from your entire family so that there is no one to hold you back from doing whatever God wants you to do? Has anyone chosen a purpose for your life that is so publicly critical of church and state that there is a very good chance it will get you killed? Has anyone given up all of your possessions—all of them—so that...

  13. Who Tells You Who You Are?
    (pp. 87-91)
    William Sloane Coffin Jr.

    We heard just a moment ago, the words of the prophet Isaiah, “ ‘I have called you by name. You are mine,’ saith the Lord.” But let us start with another quotation, this one from Lev Tolstoy: “Certain questions are put to us not so much that we should answer them, as that we should spend a lifetime wrestling with them. My question: ‘Who tells you who you are?’ ” And let me illustrate . . .

    I was eighteen years chaplain here at Yale, and it was natural that seniors going on to graduate school (who had not learned...

  14. Walk by Faith and Wait upon the Lord
    (pp. 92-98)
    David L. Bartlett

    The prophet Habakkuk cried his anguished complaint twentyseven hundred years ago, but it could just as well have been twenty-seven days ago:

    O Lord, how long shall I cry for help

    And will you not listen? Or cry to you ‘‘violence!’’ and you will not save . . .

    Destruction and violence are before me;

    Strife and contention arise. . . .

    Then after long anguish and short silence, the Lord finally replies:

    There is a vision for my appointed time . . .

    If it seems to tarry, wait for it;

    It will surely come, it will not delay;...

  15. A Benediction for Us All
    (pp. 99-105)
    Gardner C. Taylor

    I had wanted to deal with something, but events have imperiously demanded that something else be looked at. Let me read this passage from the last two verses of that one chapter that comprises the epistle of Jude: “Now unto Him, that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.” I had wanted to call that a benediction for us all. And I must make a confession to you,...

  16. The Years That the Locusts Have Eaten
    (pp. 106-112)
    John Vannorsdall

    If you ever need a description of a plague of locusts, look to the Book of Joel. About 450 years before Christ, the prophet wrote this about locusts on parade. It’s unlikely that these locusts will crawl upon the walls of your house and enter through my windows, but neither of us will escape the issue that prompted Joel’s frightening vision. Joel said that the plague of locusts he described was God’s punishment for the people’s sins. Is that true?

    “The Lord utters his voice at the head of his army; how vast is his host! Numberless are those who...

  17. Lux et Veritas
    (pp. 113-123)
    Peter J. Gomes

    Let us pray. Help us Lord to become masters of ourselves, that we may become the servants of others. Take our hands and work through them, take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, and take our hearts and set them on fire for Christ’s sake. Amen.

    We have been going through a rough patch in these past several weeks. I refer not exclusively to your interminable celebrations, although I am sure they are part of the rough patch, but it is in the larger context that we have to be stirred and troubled...

  18. Preaching in the New Millennium
    (pp. 124-133)
    Laura Geller

    It is an extraordinary honor to be here in the Battell Chapel . . . and a bit of a surprise. First, it’s a surprise because I didn’t go to Yale. Second, it’s a surprise because I’m Jewish, and I don’t usually preach in a church. Actually this is not the first time I have had the privilege of preaching in a church. In fact the very first sermon I ever gave was in the First Baptist Church in Providence. It was 1971, my graduation from Brown; I had been elected by my class to give one of the commencement...

  19. More God Than We Want
    (pp. 134-139)
    William H. Willimon

    “I think I’m going to like majoring in history,” the student said.

    “Good,” I said.

    “It was tough at first,” he said.

    “The reading?” I asked. “The reading list can be long.”

    “No, the first thing you’ve got to do, in order to major in history, is to become an atheist. After that, everything’s easier.”


    “Yep. You find out early, that the answer to a question like, ‘What was a major cause of the French Revolution?’ or ‘What factor contributed to the Great Depression?’ is never ‘God.’ You can’t say, ‘There was a revolution in France because God wanted...

  20. Closing Prayer
    (pp. 140-142)
    Frederick J. Streets

    We have sought during this year to celebrate the founding spirit of this university and to gauge and honor its history of three centuries of educating men and women. Our reflections upon this legacy have given us joy and deepened our appreciation of Yale and for all those who have worked, lived, studied, and learned here.

    What began in the hearts of those whose vision was to serve you and humankind and in their modest Branford and Old Saybrook homes as a collegiate school, now stands before us here in New Haven as a distinctive university symbolized by this great...

  21. Contributors
    (pp. 143-147)