Yesterday at our Circuit Greek study, we had a nice discussion about preaching, about what it is. And one of the things we noted and lamented is how rarely people think of preaching in terms of proclamation.
Think on what the word "proclamation" actually means. It means you are proclaiming - speaking out - a truth, a great and glorious truth (or even a sad and horrific truth). It's V-E and V-J Day announcing the end of World War II, it's "The British are coming!" To proclaim is to announce and declare what has happened.
And that's what the sermon is meant to do. A sermon declares reality - all have sinned. X is wrong. Satan attacks you this way. A sermon is to declare what Christ Jesus has done for you. He has died for your sins, He has forgiven you, He comes to you in His Word, He has baptized you and made you an heir of salvation, He has defeated sin, death, and the Devil for you. He comes to you today in His Supper and brings you life and salvation. These are all declarations of REALITY - of what is true. It is a proclamation of Law and Gospel.
Now, some folks will think of sermons as being primarily educational - that is providing information and explaining it. And there is some of that in a sermon -- but any explanation is in a sermon designed to assist the proclamation of Law and Gospel - to help us understand the immediate, current proclamation. But a sermon will never be a Bible Study, it will never have the depth, the back and forth, the exploration of tangents that a Bible Study will have. Education is good -- but it's necessarily not declaring the Gospel, it's not giving people Christ Crucified.
And then there are those who think the sermon should be motivation. You know, manipulation. Where I speak to make you do X, Y, and Z. We'll have pastor preach and make that guy in the pew next to me stop being such a jerk. We'll have pastor preach and those other cheap folks will give more in the offering. Manipulating people into engaging in certain behaviors. The only problem is this may harp on the Law... but never gets to Jesus... at least not a Jesus Crucified and Risen for you.
I proclaim the Good News, the Gospel of Christ Jesus. And that's what every sermon I preach needs to do if it is to rightly be called a sermon.