Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ministry is sermon preparation

I am an advocate of the study. I think good, wise, biblical sermons require the preacher to spend ample time listening to the text so that they might also hear a fresh word from God. That being said, I was struck by a passage I read recently in Richard Lischer's The End of Words that reminded me, sermons are not the product of study alone. Ministry, especially ministry to the least of these, is also sermon preparation because it is where we encounter the presence of the living Christ.

“Training in preaching begins with training for ministry. ‘When did we see you naked or hungry or in prison?’ the naive sheep ask the Judge. Preachers have ransacked nature, history, and their own emotions for illustrations of the divine. They have scratched into every conceivable experience in search of divinity or its analogues. They have explored every possible site except the very places Jesus promises to be – among those who suffer and seek restoration.

"Preachers have looked for him virtually everywhere save among the ordinary practices of the people of God, who yearn more deeply than they are willing to admit for sermons that credibly portray their lives of faith – not Mother Teresa’s, Gandhi’s, or Gandolf’s, but theirs” (Richard Lischer, The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence (The Lyman Beecher Lectures in Preaching), 39).

What are ways you join the study and day to day ministry in your sermon preparation? How do you get out of the office and into people's lives?

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