For those of you who read this blog, know me personally, and know my rector, read the following with TKT’s voice in your mind, “Woooo, that Isaiah sure brings a strong word to us today.” I totally agree with the TKT in your brain, Isaiah has a message especially suitable for preachers this week.
“The LORD GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.”
Yesterday, I encouraged you to watch the “I Dream of a Church” video from Acts 8. If you didn’t do it, go and do it now. Matthew Moretz, or “Father Matthew Presents” fame is also featured on that video. He’s the guy with the NSFW dream for the Church. “I dream of a Church,” Father Matthew said, “where the preaching is damn good every Sunday.” Boy do I agree with him. Year after year after year, congregational studies tell seminaries that the MOST IMPORTANT skill they can give future clergy is the ability to preach. And yet so many of us are absolutely dreadful.
Everybody thinks that you have to preach without notes to be a good preacher. Not true. Most preachers who preach without notes ramble through stories with no clear point. Lots of people think that you have to be a drama major to be a good preacher. Not true. Smoke and mirrors will last only so long when content is lacking. Some think that preaching is important relative to the Sacraments and Pastoral Care. Not true. Often, it is the only entry point a priest has into the hearts and minds of her membership. Damn good preaching is of utmost importance to the Church…
And it requires the tongue of a teacher, that one may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Disturbing the comfortable is easy. We learned hundreds of things in seminary that would ignite most congregations into a furor. Comforting the disturbed – that is the sign of a good preacher because often the preacher stands with his congregation in the midst of disturbing circumstances. The ability to preach peace in the midst of hardship is a sign that the LORD GOD is at work in the heart and mind of the preacher.
Our task, dear friends, is first to listen. Listen for the Spirit. Second to speak. Speak the Word. (nb. a capital “W” indicates I mean the second person of the Trinity, aka Jesus). Finally, get out of the way. Let the LORD GOD do the heavy lifting.
Oh that we all might learn how to sustain the weary with a word.