6/4 Preaching as a contextual Word Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of class for my final year of classwork at Luther Seminary. The end is in sight for this doctor of ministry program. However, there are these three weeks of class and the research and writing of the thesis project.

The class was introduced are questions of identity and belonging constructed through social theory.

Preaching happens in a context and I want to be a preacher that makes a commitment to recognizing the context explicitly in my preaching. The Word is not generic and neither should my preaching be generic.

Culture influences how/why/where people show up on Sunday morning. People are in the pew seeking to understand meaning, belonging and identity.

Culture longing for belonging can be seen in times of life transitions. Life transitions such as birth, school, emerging adulthood, marriage, divorce, divorce etc, can be moments of entry for people or they can be moments when people feel lost and pushes away from religion.

We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing Karl Barth and his article “The Need and Promise of Christian Proclamation.” Barth was a parish pastor who was also a theologian and later became a professor. He responded to a time of positivism (believing that people would operate in God and actions would reveal God). Positivism was shut up by World War I and the breakdown of expectations in the possibility to become agents of God in this world.

Barth points to the anticipation for God to be at work, but that this work of God cannot be pointed. Preaching promise and not necessarily falling into the attraction of fulfillment.

I think a good question that was asked in the class was, “What do people anticipate in the sermon?”

– True, affirming, motivation for action, companionship, challenge, who can I trust, is God still in control

What do you anticipate in the sermon?

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2 thoughts on “6/4 Preaching as a contextual Word Day 1

  1. A great question! This topic was covered in our sermon on Sunday, in a way. I come to the sermon expecting to hear absolute truth. To hear what the Word says about who God is, what He is doing, and what He has done. I desire to hear a clear message, supported by the Word, that intersects with my life in the here and now. My context is inundation with messages that oppose the truth from every angle. I need my compass reset on the truth through the Word and sermon, together with absolution of sin and the celebration of Holy Communion.

  2. Beautifully expressed, Jennifer.

    When I first pondered this, I was in “academic mode.” UGH! I jotted down my thoughts and feelings in outline style with “anticipate” meaning “expect.”

    In my morning devotions, I re-thought “anticipate” as “looking forward to.” Then I simply wrote in my journal:
    My heart “looks forward to” Pastor Gaertner’s energetic and engaging sermon style~ and in the Word of God, finding nourishment for my soul, to build my Faith and discover in His Grace and Mercy a fresh outlook on my life’s challenges.

    Then, I shredded my academic outline. 🙂

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