“ A musical performance is a unique convergence of things, and in many ways that’s what a sermon is,” she says. “ It’s just a unique convergence of text and preacher and congregation and context and God and Spirit—sort of a reincarnation of God’s living word.”
As a teacher of preachers, Karoline Lewis believes that those who will stand in the pulpits of the future church need to renew their trust in the Bible. A biblical text ought to be something more than a jumping-off point to doctrine or other topics in a sermon, she says.
"I think the future of homiletics is biblical preaching and being able to interpret biblical texts into the lives of congregations so that the text becomes the shaping, forming, living word of God that I think it's meant to be," Lewis says. "The sermon needs to be the very living presence of Jesus and God for us."
Lewis is a homiletician who takes biblical texts very seriously. She taught several New Testament courses at Luther Seminary before joining its homiletics faculty in 2007, and her Ph.D., from Emory University in Atlanta, is in New Testament with special focus in homiletics. Lewis sees that dual emphasis in the Bible and in preaching as a way to bridge the gap between biblical studies and the church at large.
A native Californian and a lifelong Lutheran from a family full of pastors (including both her parents), Lewis first came to Luther Seminary after her collegiate focus on violin performance gave way to an interest in Christian education. She quickly found a passion for the original Greek writings of the New Testament—a passion similar to her love for musical compositions. Lewis likewise finds parallels between musical and scriptural interpretation.
"A musical performance is a unique convergence of things, and in many ways that's what a sermon is," she says. "It's just a unique convergence of text and preacher and congregation and context and God and Spirit—sort of a reincarnation of God's living word."
Citing her parish experience in Georgia, Lewis also describes a passion for the creativity of worship—situating a sermon in the context of a thematic, unified expression of God's word. Now, back at Luther Seminary, she enjoys engaging students as they engage the word of God with their own creativity.
"I love the interactions with students—conversations outside the classroom, what they're thinking, how they're processing things, their struggles, how they're trying to put all these things together," Lewis says. "It's just really fun, and it's an extraordinarily rewarding thing to be a part of."