Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sermon Preparation

Tuesday in the week of Pentecost 7
July 21, 2009

The Lord be with you

Good sermons don’t just happen, they need to be prepared. I am told that in some church traditions such prior planning is frowned upon. You are supposed to get into the pulpit and let the Holy Spirit work. I have found that the Holy Spirit can work just fine at my desk as I prayerfully craft a sermon. I have also discovered that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of other people. That these people have actually written down their insights (we often call these recorded insights “books”). Some of these blessed people, motivated by love for the Church, have even gone so far as to record their insights in journals and books designed to aid ministers of the word in crafting their sermons. I consider such people a real blessing from God. One of those journals is Concordia Pulpit Resources. In researching this coming Sunday’s sermon (Pentecost 8) I checked it out and the section labeled “Liturgical Setting” was excellent, and I want to share it with you.

“The Sundays after Pentecost are marked by the liturgical color of green. Green is the color of growth and nature. The Propers for this day, following the Gospel, focus on God’s power over nature and his harnessing it for our good. In Mk 6:45-56, Jesus defies a law of nature by walking on water and then heals many victims of the natural order gone bad. Noah and his family have likewise benefited from God’s power over the sea, and we are assured of his continuing protection by the sign of the rainbow (Old Testament Reading [Genesis 9:8-17]). The portion of Psalm 136 selected as the Psalm of the day [verses 1-9, antiphon verse 26] also identifies God’s mastery over nature as the reason for giving him thanks.

"The Epistle [Ephesians 3:14-21], as is usual during this time of year, follows a continuous reading through Ephesians rather than being keyed to the Gospel. Paul does, however, use imagery from growing plants and nature in our text, describing the Church as “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17). The season of Pentecost is, after all, about the growth of the Church. This Pauline prayer summarizes the objective of the Pentecost season—that God’s people recognize the source of spiritual growth and respond in praise and worship through all generations. The season of Pentecost emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit. In his Trinitarian prayer, Paul notes that God does his strengthening through “his Spirit” (v 16). Moreover, the Sundays after Pentecost take place for the most part during summer. This is a season marked by heat and dryness. In many places the only way for people to stay cool and for plants to grow is to import (or impart) external sources of relief. The wilted and arid characteristics of summer may provide an illustration for the natural condition of mankind apart from God’s grace. The external source of relief, then, would be God’s grace in Christ.”

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

1 comment:

  1. Nice application - makes you want to slake you thirst by drinking deeply and often!