“God’s WORD has the power to convert people unless hindered by those who bring the word… The pulpit is not a place for a man to put his learning on parade, but where God’s WORD should be preached simply, and yet, powerfully.” 1
This comment on the art of preaching, made by Philipp Jakob Spener, first appeared in the 1675 publication of his classic work Pia Desideria. Decades ago when I attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, I copied Spener’s word into a small notebook. That notebook has been on my desk ever since. Spener’s words have served as a constant reminder to me that whenever a preacher steps into the pulpit a great responsibility rests on their shoulders. A good preacher strives to translate the Word of God to God’s people in a way that is easily understood, promotes faith, and inspires action. A good sermon invites people into a fresh experience of God and encourages them to live a vigorous Christian life. Faithful preachers know that whatever else we do, we had better not get in the way of God’s Word Of Life!
There has always been a need for sermons that help worshippers connect their lives with God’s Word. That is why the sermon has long been at the core of Lutheran worship. But in today’s multisensory, multimedia, multicultural, and secularly oriented world that need is even greater. Listening to or reading a sermon gives us an opportunity for respite from a world that moves at what increasingly feels like the speed of light. Sermons allow us to converse with God and to reflect on the wonders of his world on his terms and in his time. I believe that a listener or reader with an open mind and heart will find that a sermon is not just a “religious” experience. They will find that hearing or reading a sermon is also very much a “spiritual” experience.
It is my hope and prayer that as you listen to and/or read the sermons found here, you will hear God’s Holy Word and feel his sacred embrace. It is my hope that these sermons will be, for you, an experience of God in your world.
*Sunday’s sermon should be posted by the following Tuesday at noon.
Grace and Peace,
1: Philipp Jakob Spener, Pia Desideria, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press).