Saturday, March 20, 2010

More encouragement for those fretting over Lent, Holy Week and Easter sermon preparation (buggy computer stuff fixed)

From today's Daily Office lessons:

God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob... God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations." Exodus 2:24; 3:15

God knows the needs of all the people he will send to hear you preach. He "remembers" all of his faithful promises, including one we will hear in Luke's Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday:

"Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

God has picked out leaders and witnesses - you among them if you've been called to preach - who are imperfect but who are sent to strengthen the groaning people God loves. It is possible because Christ himself remembers his struggling people - preachers included - in his constant prayers. It is possible because the struggling people don't need your perfection, they need the saving strength of the name of Jesus remembered to them.

I'm relearning the need to read the upcoming Scriptures slowly and prayerfully. It is too easy for preachers to be busy with distractions** that interrupt the living Word of God. It is too easy to come at the Word with an agenda - some idea or image that pleases you so much it just hast to be crammed into a sermon, whether or not it has anything to do with the Scriptures; the perfect "last word" on something that bugs you; some platitude from past sermons screaming to make an encore; someone else's ideas that you like and think can save you some time.

But God knows all that and remembers his promises to you. He remembers the Baptismal promise to give you the Holy Spirit, the Confirmation promise to strengthen you in his service, and the Ordination promise to activate your gifts for ministry of Word and Sacrament.

As Jesus reminds you, just stop whatever fruitless stuff you are doing and ask the Father, in Jesus' saving name, to give you the Holy Spirit's gifts as you prepare to preach.

God remembers his promises to you, and with that great favor he sends you to remember Jesus' eternally saving name to his people.

I would end with "God bless you" but that would distract from the reality that he has, is and will.

*Painting of Gregory the Great, artist disputed.
** h/t Costly Grace

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