it is not the job [of] the community of faith to offer ways of escaping the suffering that is part of being human (namely the anxiety brought about by the sense of death, meaninglessness, and guilt), but rather to form spaces in which it can be acknowledged and worked through.
We must conceive of the sermon as an “environment” for wondering, rumination, and imagination:
Those who find their way into the post-Christendom church—believers and unbelievers alike—need a hospitable environment in which to ask questions. Those questions, which often spring from deep, existential concerns, must be taken seriously is God’s saving word is to be heard in a convincing and compelling way. An environment that treats questions hospitably, as the starting point of conversation, becomes a place for wondering, rumination, and imagination. In such an environment, a variety of answers can be weighed and considered; the meaning that thus unfolds carries authenticity for having been personally integrated rather than adopted by rote.
Indeed, the sermon may itself be conceived as a hospitable environment for those who find their way into the pews. Understood as environment, the sermon is released from the flattened realm of explanation, explication, moral directive, or, indeed, any “thing” to be communicated. Rather, understood as environment, the sermon achieves a kind of spatial quality, becomes a safe space in which hearers can contemplate something foreign and desire its becoming familiar, can approach something threatening and welcome its challenge, can chance upon something unexpected and delight in its turning of the mind. The sermon as hospitable environment for wondering, rumination, and imagination encourages growth and change out of desire and delight.
—Christine McSpadden, ”Preaching Scripture Faithfully in a Post-Christendom Church” in The Art of Reading Scripture