From Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (pg. 119-120)

“The young pastor had been conditioned to assume that real ministry was about ‘helping people.’  Of course, Jesus helped people and commissioned us to do the same.  The trouble begins when we assume that we already know what ‘helping people’ looks like, that helping people is a simple matter of motivating the church to go out and do what everyone already knows ought to be done.

Yet we have argued, earlier, that Christians define “what ought to be done” on the basis of our peculiar account of what God has done and is doing in the world.  That account teaches us to be suspicious of all proposed solutions until they are placed under the scrutiny of God’s story.”

Too many times I have heard sermons that were more therapy and psychology that  proclamation of Gospel.  For me, as I reflect upon this reading and the fact that the two men writing are from a Reformed background, I cannot help think what happened to the preaching and teaching for a generation?  When did stories and clever one liners become the content of our preaching.  When did general moral and ethical observations become the basis for pulpit speech rather than the word of God.  “Do not seat the small stuff” where is that in Scripture?

Is this what happens to a church and people who take Scripture and the revelation of God’s Son incarnate as a moral, ethical, relational tool, a life=coach incarnate?  We already have plenty of those thank-you-very-much.

What happens when the Scripture becomes a tangible place where the Incarnate Word of God is revealed for us?  When the story of God and His Salvation is at the center of our lives as a congregation?  What happens when preaching becomes yet another place where the Holy Spirit drives Christ into the middle of a people whose lives and hearts are divided, afraid, and hostile toward God?  These are all rhetorical questions of course.  Those of us who read the Scripture know what happens.  Pentecost happens.

Pentecost is when the office of the ministry takes flight.  It, the office, is driven by the Holy Spirit driving Christ right into the hearts and out of the mouths of faithful men.  When that happens the world, flesh, and the devil become incredulous.  They no longer dictate speech, actions, and life.  They are a defeated empire waiting for that last trumpet too.  The eschaton then becomes where we are headed.  Pastors can stop trying to “help people” figure out life now and help people believe their baptism gives them life then.  Pastors can preach convicted, fiery sermons of Law and Gospel that cut to the heart and convert sinners.

Of course I say all this as a Vicar.  As one who knows nothing of what I speak other than what I have seen.

Thank-you Mr. Hauerwas, Mr. Willimon.  Thank-you very much.

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