There have been a lot of bad sermons in the world.
Sermons about the Packers’ score, unicorns, global warming, lands of make-believe, funny stories that really aren’t funny at all, and a lot of other topics that leave parishioners willing Jesus to come back before the sermon is over just to make it stop.I’m not a pastor. I don’t know how hard it is to write ten minutes of theological genius each Sunday. I don’t know the sheep in the pew and what they need to hear.
But here is what I do know: Pastors have, at best, one hour each week for church and ten minutes of that to pack all the Law and Gospel they can into a sermon.
They have just ten short minutes to cut those of us listening down with Law, apply the sweet salve of the Gospel, and to give us Jesus . . . again and again and again.
Football scores and made-up lands: It’s all superfluous. It’s filler. It’s what Dr. David P. Scaer said:
This fill-in-the-blank bit is the in thing. (1) It is too late. We all know about it already. (2) It is a Gospel substitute. (3) The world is perishing.
So trust on this, pastors: If we want to watch know the score, we’ll check our phones. If we want to see unicorns, we’ll plunge ourselves into the Internet. If we want to hear tales of make-believe lands, we’ll lose ourselves in a good book.
But if it’s Jesus we need (And it is! Because you, as pastors, have taught us that, and we thank you for it.), we’ll go to church. And we’re counting on you to deliver the goods, the goods that the Internet, the theater, sports, and the world can’t.
I’m not a pastor. I don’t know anything about sermons.
But I am baptized, and I do know this: I just need Jesus: in the manger, flipping tables, outside Lazarus’s tomb, in the Jordan, on the cross, risen from the dead, on the altar, in the font, at the pulpit.
Someone else can have the Packers’ scores, unicorns, global warming, lands of make-believe, and funny stories that really aren’t funny at all. Just give me the one thing needful. Just give me–give all of us–Jesus.
*Photos of Emmaus Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo.