Faculty Q&A: Dr. W. Hulitt Gloer

March 21, 2018
How can we, as preachers, better preach throughout the season of Lent? What are ideas or strategies that can help us to better do it?

Frederick Buechner says that Lent is parallel to Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. He suggests that, in those 40 days, Jesus was basically asking the question, "What does it mean to be Jesus?" He was struggling with his identity, his call, and how that should be lived out.

In order to recognize Jesus's humanity, we have to look at the possibility that he struggled with those things. Buechner suggests that, for Christians, Lent should be 40 days of asking the question, "What does it mean to be Christian?" It's a parallel question. For me, this means, "What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?" The way we learn about that is to listen to him and watch him.

So, preaching during Lent, I try to use the journey to Jerusalem in the Gospels. One year, I'll take Mark, the next I'll take Luke. That's one strategy. Another strategy is to take the basic concerns of Lent with examining ourselves, holding up the model of Jesus, and asking how we measure up to that model. Within these, there are basic themes-confession, repentance, forgiveness, discipline, and so on. I might preach through Lent about those themes. Those are two strategies for preaching during lent-one is textually based and the other topically based--but there is enough in any one of those for several years of preaching.

What does a day in the life of Dr. Gloer look like at Truett Seminary?

I get up in the morning at about 5:00am, which has gotten significantly easier as I've gotten older, and I do an hour to an hour and a half of Bible reading and prayer. I pray through the day for what comes up each day and ask for a sensitivity in God's presence in that.

Then I come to Truett and I teach my classes, go to chapel, and then go to covenant group. The afternoon is spent dealing with class material, preparing for classes and grading for classes, which I have to do.

I get home around 5:00 to 5:30pm, and I usually work for an hour or two at night after I get home. Sheila and I will then usually do something together for the last hour or so of our time awake. This varies each night, some nights we may only be awake until 8:00pm, and others 10:00pm, but more normally around 9:00pm, which has also changed as I've gotten older. I'd say that's a pretty typical day for me.

What is one unexpected or unknown fact about yourself that you think would be interesting for people to know?

Well I've thought a lot about this. There are things that people don't know about me that they might find surprising.

For example, there was a time in my life that I was a member of the group Guns 'N Roses-you may remember that group. But, because I'm a pacifist, I can only play on the Roses part. I was not playing on the Guns part. I was playing clarinet actually. In fact, many people don't know that Guns 'N Roses had a clarinet player. Clarinet players sort of hang in the background, rarely putting themselves forward.

So, anyway, there was a period when I did that. There was another period when I was principle director of music for the New York Philharmonic. Names like Leonard Bernstein and Leonard Slatkin may come to mind. I've asked not to be put forward with those guys because, I mean, that's their whole life. For me, it's just an avocation. I played the clarinet with the Philharmonic.

Another thing is, when I was in high school, I played clarinet in my high school band. In my last two years, I was a drum major of my high school band. Although this may be surprising to some, I never played the clarinet well, and I used to practice on the way to my lessons-that's how bad it was. So, I think, maybe, the band director made me the drum major to keep me from playing, and therefore he gave the band a better sound all-around. I don't know that for sure, but I have my suspicions about it.

So, those are some things that I doubt many people know about me. Now, there's a radio show called "Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me," and, on that show, they sometimes give three scenarios and you are supposed to choose which one is most likely to be true. So, I know you'd be shocked at some of these things you've just heard about me, but one of them is true. Now, what I leave you with is the question of, "Which one of the three is probably true?"

Sometimes you have to live in the mystery.

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