Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Simple Game

Baseball is a simple game.  You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.

Likewise, preaching is a simple game.  You read the text, you preach the Law, you preach the Gospel.

Of course, baseball is a bit interesting.  Alright, throw a ball from 60 feet, 6 inches with topspin to make it break 8 inches down and 6 inches left and hit a target 2 inches square.  Ugh.

Or hit a round ball (traveling 90 mph no less) with a round bat into a 90 degree arc in front of you.  Oh, and hitting it over 400 feet would be best.

And catching - well, yeah, it's probably the simplest of these to do, but it's still easy to get a bit uncoordinated with it, and we do have to give you a special piece of equipment to help out with that.

If one wants to be a professional baseball player, one must constantly hone his craft.

Likewise, a preacher deals with three simple things - text, Law, and Gospel.  But if you want to be good at preaching, you need to pay attention to these things.

We have texts - so what actually is going on in the text?  What gets lost or obscured in the English translation?  What's the context of what happened before hand?  What comes next?  How does this text fit into the greater narrative of the book?  And then of course, how does it mesh with the other readings, the introit and collect?  There's a lot going on there.

We have the Law.  So, how is sin exposed in the text?  How is it addressed?  Its it warned against?  Is it shown for the trap that it is?  Is the futility of our own righteousness show?  Are we directed towards showing love?  What flavor does the Law take -- and then how is that Law translated to folks today?  (And yes, it is often a translation - I rarely have folks standing up in the middle of service and thanking God that they are not like the folks in the back row.)  How is it to be applied to these specific people?  How is it to be made broad enough to where people will not think "Chuck needs to hear this"?  How can it be said specifically enough to where everyone says, "I needed to hear this"?

And then we have the Gospel.  Where is Christ Jesus and is He doing things for you?  That's the Gospel.  Now, it needs to mesh with the Law, counter it, overcome and defeat and fulfill it.  One prof at the Sem said it needed to be like two fists, a Law fist and a Gospel fist coming together with the Gospel fist winning -- you have to line it up so they don't swing past each other (You are a sinned condemned to death but Jesus provides for your earthly needs - WHIFF!)

It's a simple task... but the art of learning to do it is rough - and nothing hurts it worse than complacency - than thinking, "eh, this is simple.  I don't need to pay attention."

Assume the batter's an easy out, and that's when you serve up a gopher ball.  Assume a simple fastball and that's when the backdoor curve freezes you.  Lollygag a fly ball and that's when it pops out of your mitt.

Like one of my old coaches used to say - keep your head in the game.  He also happened to be a Lutheran Pastor.

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