Week after week I basically do the same thing. I have comfortably settled into the backward way of thinking which says something like ‘people need to have the Good News proclaimed to them each and every week’. Jesus, his person and work, delivered directly into their ears. In fact I have taught our church that if they do not hear me teaching just that, then I have severely failed. I can mess up a song, bungle the liturgy, thank the wrong person for something, and announce a prayer request that was not for the whole congregation but I can only fail if I have done the one thing I have clearly been tasked in doing.
There are several perspectives on the purpose of regular Sunday gatherings for church bodies. The route that our church has taken is to reserve the sermon specifically and simply for proclamation and most of the service.
Many who visit us are doing so because they have been to this prophet and that church body and that denomination and they are now looking for that true knowledge that will save them.
Each and every week I preach that nothing, not even a good amount of biblical knowledge, will save. A new word will not save. Your actions will not save. Your right application of biblical directives in this week’s passage will not save. Only Jesus’ shed blood for the forgiveness of your sins will save. And in preaching that from every text of the Bible, God the Holy Spirit is calling each listener to repentance. Giving the opportunity to be turned from selfishness and sin and be turned to Jesus.
For Anchored Baptist Church our weekly gatherings are for faith to come by hearing the world about Christ.
Okay that was the preachy bit. The soapbox is not the point nor a moment of performative uniqueness about our church but rather to give me the opportunity to say how boring it all seems. The teaching never really changes though the text is different. I only have one thing to offer.
During our extensive lockdown I prop up my microphone late on Saturday night and visualize the faces of our fellow church members as well as I can. However I cannot envision reactions. Each week I preach the Gospel and get no feedback. I do not mean positive or negative. Rather understanding or confusion. Listening or not listening.
As we “patiently” await the opportunity to meet in full again we get to meet in part in a beautiful little garden and study through our lectionary readings. I get to guide everyone through the beautiful Biblical Theology woven in the texts and then present the Gospel through them.
This past week when we arrived at Psalm 138:2 and read this:
 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
I got to joyfully proclaim God’s steadfast love most clearly seen in his faithfulness toward us in the person and work of Jesus. That Jesus is exalted above all things (Colossians 1.15-20) and that he is given the name that is above every other name (Philippians 2.9-11) and that he himself is The Word made flesh (John 1.14).
After preaching Jesus crucified for the forgiveness of sins from Isaiah 51 and Romans 11-12 I looked up and the lights started coming on during the Psalm meditation. As always I know that all the Words I had used had probably been ignored or untranslated in the fog of “first half of church service”. I was reminded that this message that I weekly preach must be spoken over and over again and from every angle. Also I was reminded that this message is even better in person both to give and receive.
When the foggy or disinterested looks dissipated and the lightbulbs sparked on I thought to myself, “So we meet again”.