Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sermons, Why Bother?

Why should we still bother with sermons? Why not simply bypass them or do as many churches do and simply turn them into Bible Studies?

Is there a difference between a Bible Study and a Sermon? Many people think not. Yet I cannot imagine a single person counting standing in a grocery store checkout line as being the same as being called to the supper table. What is the difference? In the first instance the food items are gathered together and bagged and carried home. In the second instance the food items are prepared as a succulent meal and served to those hungrily awaiting to gobble it down.

A sermon is not merely gathering together facts to present to people in an organized manner. A sermon is not merely a lecture. A sermon is a prepared feast that is fed to those who have been called together to gobble it down. This feast is not mere facts and information. This feast is the very Word of God, the Lord Jesus Himself, fed aurally to those who have come to receive Him into their hearts yet again. The sermon is also preparation, like an appetizer, for the greater feast of the body and blood of the Lord in His Holy Supper of everlasting Communion.

Sermons are without a doubt a lot of work to prepare. The initial stages are sheer agony. But the pastor receives more than he exerts, and what he receives he delivers to those whom the Lord has entrusted to his pastoral care. They in turn receive what their loving pastor feeds to them and they carry it with them wherever they go throughout the week, sharing morsels with others whom they encounter in their daily journey.

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Gary Cepek said...

Pastor Siems,

We emailed the following to you, and upon reflection want to post it to your blog.

Dear Pastor Siems,

We marvel at the LORD's ways. We responded to your blog and sermons because of the clear Scriptural content that don't "beat sround the bush" so to speak, but instead present the particular portion of the Word both textually, contextually, historically, and yet personally. In this, the Spirit nurtures and builds the faith He engendered, calling the Church Militant to repentance, in the sense the Augsburg Confession uses the term, working a contrite heart on account of our sinfulness and its damnable fruit, sin; and renewing saving faith with the gracious absolution announced in the Gospel of forgiveness and life, granting comfort and a good conscience, and then working the blessed fruits of repentance, both the godly desire and the determined effort to amend one's life to the glory of God.

I remember reading in Luther about the hidden God; specific to this point, that God chooses to hide Himself in the lowly, the weak, the foolish, the very ones that the world will ignore and despise because in its blind unbelief it is looking for God in places it falsely assumes are appropriate or desirable. Not Alone is one such lowly mask which the world ignores and even despises, but that God uses to glorify Himself and bless His people; indeed, to bless you, the one He has raised up to serve Him and His church, since in Him and in His church, you are not alone. So, may He continue to assure you by the pure Word and rightly administered Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion that your work in the LORD is never in vain, not for one moment . May His clear Word establish you and His church, as reflected in Isaiah 55:1-13, because as we think of you and pray for you, the Word stands out to us. We reproduce it below for you and for ourselves:

(continued on next post)

Gary Cepek said...

(continued from previous post)

"Oh, come to the water, all you who are thirsty! You who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come and buy grain without money, and wine and milk that costs nothing. Why are you spending money for what isn't bread and your earnings for what doesn't satisfy? If only you would listen to Me, you will eat good things and enjoy rich food. Hear, and come to Me. Listen and you will live! I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the mercies faithfully promised to David! Once i made him a witness to the nations, a prince and commander of the nations. So now you will call a nation you don't know, and a nation that doesn't know you will run to you on account of the LORD your God and the Holy One of Israel, for He has honored you." Search for the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Every wicked man should give up his way, and every evil man what he's thinking. If He comes back to the LORD, He will be merciful to him, and to our God, He will forgive him ever so much. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways," says the LORD. "As high as heaven is above the earth, so far are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts. As rain and snow come down from heaven and don't go back again but water the ground and make it produce and grow and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so will My Word be that I speak. It will not return to Me empty but it will accomplish what I want and achieve what I had in mind. You will go out with joy and be led out in peace. The mountains and the hills will break into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees in the field will happily applaud. Where there was a thornbush, a cypress will grow. Where there was a brier, a myrtle will grow. And this will honor the LORD and be an everlasting sign that will not be cut down."

Through His eyes, saving faith is given light. Through such Words, saving faith sees what the flesh cannot. Through these words, we are comforted, strengthened, and see that in Christ's completed work we are over-conquerors. O LORD, drown our flesh that fights against this beautiful vision that is present and lasts unto eternity.

yours in Christ and in His Church,

Gary Cepek