Hello beloveds at St. Peter’s,
Instead of highlighting what’s coming up or reflecting on the events of the past month I want to write about preaching.
Because preaching is weird.
I mean really, what is a sermon? It’s not exactly a lecture. It’s not exactly entertainment (although I have dabbled in improv comedy…) It’s not a dialogue, or a straight up speech, or a performance. It’s this strange thing that happens for 10-12 minutes every Sunday and it is in a category all of its own.
So here’s how I understand preaching. Preaching is what happens when God’s life, your life, my life, and the life of the world get jumbled up and then spit out. The way that the Lutheran Church understands preaching is that it is primarily an encounter.
Preaching is an encounter with the living Word of God, which is Jesus.
I mean, there’s a lot of room for error. (After all, it’s a human being doing the work of preaching.) So I’m not saying that my word is God’s word. But I’m saying that if the Holy Spirit is at work, then when we come to the sermon, despite my human inclination for error - we will encounter God speaking to us today.
So, you might learn some things, but learning isn’t really the goal. You might be entertained, but that’s not the goal either. You might be bored and that certainly isn’t the goal! The goal is to have an encounter with God and to walk away different - transformed.
So when you come to worship on Sundays and you sit there while I preach, listen.
Listen for the ways that God is trying to have an encounter with you.
Notice where the sermon takes you – to what associations or memories or relationships? If the Spirit is at work, the words of the sermon will likely move you to the place in your world where the gospel is beginning to do its work on you.
If something I say challenges you, listen to that part of you that’s feeling challenged. Or heaven forbid, you feel offended by something I say, listen to that part of you that is feeling offended. And then come talk to me. God might be trying to do something there in all of that! If something I say hits you like a ton of bricks, listen! If you come away with more questions than answers, listen to those questions.
We have an active, engaged God who is always trying to have an encounter with us. In church, and out of church. In sermons, but also at work, at home, at the bar, you name it! Listen!