Many preachers are still recovering from this last Sunday, where they poured out their hearts and souls to present the Sacred Writings - and Jesus in them (Luke 24:27) - for their church families. And now they are preparing for yet another Sunday. They are digging in, pondering the text, writing notes and scribbling pictures, praying for the Spirit to illumine their minds and apply the text to their own hearts and lives. They are looking for Jesus, and his Gospel. They are thinking of how it might apply to their people. They are assembling potential illustrations. They are doing it all in the midst of a dizzying array of other demands upon their time and office.
I wonder, how are you preparing?
So often I think people walk into the meeting place on Sunday morning, thinking that the responsibility for hearing from God in the Sacred Text is the job of the preacher. While there is some truth to that (he must study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that must not be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth), the listener has a grave responsibility.
It's what Jesus makes clear in the text I am studying for this coming Sunday:
Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:18, ESV)
That first phrase means essentially this - pay attention. See! Look! Get your eyes locked in, your mind engaged, your ears open, to hear what the Spirit is saying.
Jesus does not say, "If the preacher is dynamic, pay attention and listen. If he has good slides, an outline that is handed out to you, if he is hip, if he is well-read, then give him a hearing." No, if the preacher is at minimum opening God's Word, and doing his best, with the gifts God has given to him, to present the text and Jesus and the Gospel to your life, then pay attention, hear, obey, and do. Walk away from the Sunday meeting, and keep thinking, keep hearing, keep listening to that text for how it means to transform your life and make you like Jesus.
Kent Hughes shares the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
Bonhoeffer ran an underground seminary for theological students during the oppressive years of Nazi Germany. He was a very intelligent man who possessed immense critical capabilities. But in his homiletics classes as he listened to his students preaching, he always set aside his pencil and listened intently with his Bible open before him - no matter how poor the sermon was.
He believed that the preaching of God's Word ought to be attended as if he were listening to the very voice of God. That is how I try to listen too - always looking to the text, always engaged, always thinking, always praying.
Jesus has called us to be sure we really hear the Word of God.
I - and an army of preachers - are looking forward to what Jesus will speak into our lives this week. We can't wait to hear the very voice of God.
See you Sunday.