Spring 2011 CONCORDIA JOURNAL sneak peek
The Spring 2011 Concordia Journal should leave the printer by Tuesday, May 10. A few weeks later than we hoped, but as timely as ever. In the meantime, the Homiletical Helps are already online.
Among the touchstones of the issue, President Dale Meyer introduces us to the new Benidt Seminary Center, the construction and renovation of which will be in full swing this summer, to be completed in time for the 2011 Theological Symposium (September 20-21).
Reed Lessing clears up the exegetical confusion surrounding the servant songs in Isaiah 40-55, and his work here is a foretaste of the feast to come in his Isaiah 40-55 Concordia Commentary, to be published by Concordia Publishing House later this year.
And David Schmitt writes a tour-de-force article on what he calls “the tapestry of preaching.” Here’s a tasty morsel:
Preaching for many pastors is a weekly task. Immersed in the activity of writing sermons, they find it hard to pause, even for a moment, for faithful consideration of what God is doing through their words. Yet faithful consideration forms faithful pastors: not pastors who approach preaching with haughty self-confidence, believing that whatever they say and do in the pulpit is praiseworthy simply because they say it and do it, but pastors who approach preaching as holy and see themselves as servants, servants of a God who uses many weak voices to utter one powerful word. It produces preachers who, after all of those years and all of those sermons, still return to the field of homiletics, pick up a preaching book or attend a preaching conference, and find something more that can be learned. Maybe that is why there is still a tremble in the hand and a nervous swallow in the throat as we begin the morning sermon, why we still watch with wonder as our wrestling with Scripture comes forth to impart a blessing before going on its way.
Now the question rises, how exactly do you evaluate what you say? How do you know when your attempts at telling stories move your preaching beyond the realm of a sermon and into something more like entertainment? How do you know when a creative technique in the pulpit produces mass confusion in the pew? The field of homiletics has undergone a massive transformation and, as we integrate learning from this discipline into weekly proclamation, how do we know when we still are preaching and when we are not? In an attempt to answer such questions, I offer this article on the tapestry of preaching. The tapestry of preaching is a metaphor I use to describe a simple framework designed for pastors to help them evaluate their public proclamation of God’s word.
The framework, itself, arises from theology. The greatest praise of preaching lies not in what people say about the sermon but in what God does through it. While faithful preachers are those who evaluate their sermons, faithful sermons are the ones in which God does what God desires to do through the office of preaching. God is at work through the sermon, reaching out to his people with words of salvation. God’s establishment of the preaching office and God’s call of the preacher, therefore, create the framework within which we speak. To evaluate preaching, we begin not with the theory of homiletics but with the theology of preaching and we allow that theology to help us evaluate our sermons. Preaching is authoritative public discourse, based on a text of Scripture, centered in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, for the benefit of the hearers in faith and life. If we consider this to be the work that God does as you preach, we recognize that the sermon is a multi-faceted speech act, an artful tapestry composed of four threads of discourse.
Dr. Schmitt’s article inaugurates a new focus on preaching that will include resources in print, online, and in person. The focus will culminate in the aforementioned 2011 Theological Symposium, “Rediscovering the Art of Preaching.” Individually and collectively, these resources will aid individual preachers and the whole church in a renewal of preaching for this day and age.
Look for more on the Symposium, and new resources here at concordiatheology.org, in the days and weeks to come.
Finally, among other things, Terry Dittmer provides a long-overdue survey of the latest is theology and ministry to youth by reviewing the new book Eutychus Youth (CPH) by former Concordia Seminary (and present Concordia University, Wisconsin) Professor John Oberdeck.
To subscribe to Concordia Journal or to obtain individual issues, contact the Journal office at [email protected] or 314-505-7117. Annual subscription rates are $15.00 USA, $20.00 Canada, $25.00 overseas. Concordia Journal is published quarterly by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.