Tuesday, May 10, 2005

269 Roast Preacher for Dinner

You've probably heard that old saw--"after church they had roast preacher for dinner." Saturday night we had dinner at friends--I think there were 11 of us, and the topic turned to preaching. We were all Lutherans, some Missouri Synod, some ELCA. Our church is fortunate to have four really outstanding pastors, all with different gifts. Jeff, the youngest is an orator--his preaching skills are amazing and energizing. Paul, the senior pastor, is gentle, soft spoken and an encourager. His father and grandfather were Lutheran Pastors. Dave is our theologian and teacher--I love his classes and have blogged about them. He is a former missionary and an excellent musician. But I love John's faithfulness to preaching the gospel--his attention to the "left side of the THEREFORE." Like me, he was a church member all of his life, but the light turned on for him in his 30s when he was a schoolteacher in the Columbus Public Schools and he left a successful career to go to seminary. So he knows from experience there are a lot of member-seekers sitting in the pew every Sunday who need to hear the Gospel in fresh, but persistent ways.

The left side of therefore. By that I mean if you ever see the word THEREFORE, or NOW in Paul's letters, pay attention. He's just finished up laying out for you why you should believe. The cross and the resurrection. Then he moves on to what you should do about it. So many sermons focus on the right side of the THEREFORE, and the sermon becomes just so much law. "Therefore, do this, and that, and don't forget about thus."

Sunday morning John was the pastor at the service I attended (we have 10 services). I had been finishing up some art show details, and slipped into the last pew by my husband who was an usher that service. The sermon was just starting. John announced the good news that Jesus had died for our sins, that his resurrection was our hope. The topic of the current sermon series is "gifts of the spirit," and the day's theme was kindness. He went on to tell a personal story (forgot to mention that John is the best story teller, having been an elementary school teacher). After selling their home to church members about 8 years ago, they moved to a condo. The new residents didn't wait for the neighbors to call on them, and instead, on Christmas Eve took cookies to the neighbors. They met a family who had just experienced a death and were grieving. They invited them to church and offered to pick them up. That couple have since become members and love the church. John said somewhat sheepishly that he had lived there for years and although he had spoken to them about yard and flowers, had never invited them to church or offered a simple kindness like a plate of cookies.

Coming away from a sermon with one major point to ponder is good; but coming away with that point plus the Gospel is even better. Thanks, Pastor John.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Oh, do I have an idea for my new neighbor... gotta run!