17 May 2007

What I Really Meant to Say

I hate it when I fall into the trap of preaching about Jesus. Don't get me wrong; it's certainly better to preach about Jesus than anything else one might preach about. But the best preaching of all isn't "about" anything; it is simply Jesus talking, speaking His Word of death and life. Nothing contradicts the Gospel of the Ascension of Our Lord like a sermon that talks about Jesus as though He were away on holiday!

Everything I said in my sermon tonight is true. But the people of God need more than the truth of facts and information. They need Jesus. I'm called and ordained to preach Jesus, to speak not about Him but for Him, His Word. It is as necessary to preach repentance in His Name, unto forgiveness of sins, as it was for Him to die and rise again. I trust, and I am grateful, that the Holy Spirit is actively present and at work in the facts and information of the Gospel narrative, and He doesn't need my help to accomplish His purposes. But that's no excuse for me to do anything less than I am given to do.

One of my dear friends and colleagues profoundly wrote, in a recent article, that a sermon doesn't teach you about the love of God; it loves you. That is well said. Jesus loves His people with His Word of the Gospel. It's not "about" anything. It is everything. The Kingdom of God is at hand in the proclamation of Christ. Faith comes by the hearing of that Word, which forgives sins and gives life in place of death.

Well, I dropped the ball tonight. I spoke truthfully, but I did more preaching about Jesus then preaching Jesus Himself into the ears of His people. Christ be praised that He gave His Body and poured out His Blood into their mouths, down their throats and into their bodies. His Words, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins," do and give exactly what He says. And where there is this forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.


Zaripest said...

I didn't hear your sermon, but I have no doubt that Christ was speaking through you and proclaiming His Gospel.

You once told me that you should never apologize for your preaching, because it is the work of the holy Spirit, and not your work. Obviously, as a pastor, you do have a duty in preparing and presenting the text of your sermon, but often I think that you worry too much about how it comes across to people and how clearly you spoke. I'm sure that I would worry too, because it seems like quite a natural thing to be concerned about, but please do take comfort in the fact that God's will is accomplished, even if it has to be done in spite of us.

Sloppy Classical said...

I'm not a profound thinker. Maybe I need to be "introduced to Jesus" every now and then in preparation for receiving the Holy Sacrament.