Posts tagged “Preaching

Bad preachers are lucky

Posted on June 23rd, 2015

From a letter of Dr. Luther to Phillip Melanchthon: Bad preachers are lucky because every one bears with them and puts up with their stupidity. Even if people immediately sense or see that these preachers are crass fools, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest and people think no worse of them for all that. But the opposite is the case for true teachers, people lie in wait when listening to their words or watching their works as if ready to pounce. And where they can find the smallest splinter (even if it is only an apparent one), they make a huge beam out of it. This is not a case of patience, but vain judgment, detraction and contempt. This is why the lot…

Adapting the local lifestyle

Posted on August 14th, 2014

In a recent interview on Issues, Etc., LCMS President Matthew Harrison encouraged pastors to get to know their people, spend time in their homes, hospital rooms, lives. Only through this will the preacher be able to truly preach to his people. It reminded me of this quotation from Eric Metaxas’s biography of Bonhoeffer about his time spent in Barcelona: The intellectual dullness and the overwhelmingly languorous atmosphere of Barcelona pushed hard against Bonhoeffer’s hyperactive mind and personality. He was amazed at how people of all ages seemed to while away the hours sitting at cafés in the middle of the day, chattering about little of any real substance. He observed that besides coffee, vermouth-and-sodas were particularly popular, usually served with half a dozen oysters.…

The bore of the age

Posted on July 7th, 2014

More from Barchester Towers on preaching: No one can rid himself of the preaching clergyman. He is the bore of the age, the old man whom we Sindbads cannot shake off, the nightmare that disturbs our Sunday’s rest, the incubus that overloads our religion and makes God’s service distasteful. We are not forced into church! No: but we desire more than that. We desire not to be forced to stay away. We desire, nay, we are resolute, to enjoy the comfort of public worship, but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God without that anxious longing for escape which…

The greatest hardship

Posted on July 6th, 2014

I’m reading Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. What a hoot! A parishioner at church has urged me for years to read it. I tried once but failed to stick with it. This time, I’m enjoying it thoroughly. There is a great section on inane preaching. I love this sentence: There is, perhaps, no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilized and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons.

I always need Jesus and mercy

Posted on December 23rd, 2012

A recent commenter critiques Lutheranism by saying there’s no need for a sermon to contain the preaching of Jesus and mercy. As for me, I always need Jesus, I always need mercy. That is the heart and center of the Christian Faith. I’m grateful when the liturgy rescues me and my congregation from a bad sermon. But a sermon that is without Jesus and His mercy is just that – a bad sermon. I always need Jesus. I always need His mercy.

How to Read the Bible

Posted on December 5th, 2012

When you open the book containing the gospels and read or hear how Christ comes here or there, or how someone is brought to him, you should therein perceive the sermon or the gospel through which he is coming to you, or you are being brought to him. For the preaching of the gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to him.  When you see how he works, however, and how he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that faith is accomplishing this in you and that he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favor through the gospel. If you pause here and let…

The people in the preacher’s study

Posted on November 20th, 2012

When I have writer’s block in preparing a sermon, I try to think about explaining the text to particular members of my congregation, mentally bringing before me a child in our school, a young mother, an elderly person approaching death. I shouldn’t wait until I have writer’s block. Gustav Wingren, in his The Living Word: A Theological Study of Preaching and the Church, puts it this way: When the Bible lies open on the preacher’s desk and the preparation of the sermon is about to begin, the worshippers have already come in; the passage contains these people since it is God’s Word to his people. The “bad sermon” is not bad because it is “lifeless” or “uninspiring”; it is bad because “men [were] not present…

Praying is more difficult than preaching

Posted on August 10th, 2012

Luther continues the discussion of infertility in the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, and highlights the challenge of persistent prayer. In the same way Rebecca took refuge in earnest and persistent prayer and sighed anxiously night and day. Isaac, too, prayed for her and placed before God nothing else than that one trouble, namely, his wife’s barrenness. We should learn from this that all our troubles, even those that are physical, should be placed before God, but above all the spiritual needs. Isaac prayed in this way: “If it means the hallowing of Thy name, and if it tends to preserve Thy kingdom, give Rebecca offspring.” Where a promise is lacking, as Rebecca lacked it, prayer should supply this and should come to the…

Issues, Etc. Sermon Review

Posted on August 1st, 2012

I am humbled that Issues, Etc. chose my sermon for their weekly Sermon Review. I often think about the sermon diagnostic that Pr Wilken uses, but generally feel that my own sermons don’t fully measure up. It’s a good reason for me to keep listening to Issues, Etc., and I hope you will too (and support them – they need and deserve it)!