by Wally Drotts (Rev & Dr)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I have been guest preacher several times at worship at Dave’s invitation and had looked forward to today’s service of installation. But such was not to be. Instead of “tripplingly with the tongue”, as Shakespeare put it, I tripped at bedside Friday morning with back spasms. Early on my “Queen” Jean had advised me to decline the invitation due to an earlier stroke, but was overruled by “King” David. By the way, Dave and I have been friends in ministry a long time, even serving together on a church staff. Enough of that. My thanks to whomever will have to read my paper.
So here goes: Your CHARGE David.
I will hang my few thoughts on Paul’s injunction to young Timothy, Paul’s apprentice in ministry at Ephesus, at II Timothy 4:2: “Preach the Word.” ( You have been doing this consistently for years with fervor and excitement, but which St.Paul would urge upon you again.)
I would say first: Preach the Word FAITHFULLY. The trend today with today’s pastors is to have reservations that the Scriptures are a word from God–written, The Bible, they contend is a product of ancient and unenlightened times. So a preacher is left with the duty of what II Peter calls, “private interpretation”, his own more enlightened take. George Butttrick in his book on preaching, quotes Thomas Carlyle, who laments of his minister, “If only he could rediscover His Word.” Buttrick continues, “Jesus could have written a book, but he ‘came preaching’ “. Paul carried on that tradition.
Of course, we must bring to the Scripture our brains. It must be, as Barth once said, “We are to preach God’s Word, but in man’s language.” It was his practice to read the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other. But, even if one must, as it were, sort it out, in there somewhere must be God’s Word for our day. PREACH IT BROTHER!
Let me advise you also, Dave, Preach the Word BOLDLY. I admit it takes a certain amount of courage to stand publically before an audience and say, “Thus says the Lord.” We often, as we enter the pulpit, ask: “Who am I, Lord, a man of unclean lips, to announce ‘Thus says the Lord.’ ” But in humility, and “decently and in good order”, you must.
There is a legitimate place for teaching, discussions, questions, seminars and seminaries of course, but in the pulpit, Preach and Teach the Word. You have accepted the call to preach.
The word “Preach” is Paul’s Greek word knpussoo (crusso), which means to “proclaim, a herald who proclaims” news from the house tops like a man at a news stand. “The prophet Isaiah stood before the Jerusalem crowds preaching “Hear ye”, Hear ye”, I have ‘good news’ for you.” with the postscript, “How blessed are the feet of those who proclaim good news.”
P. T. Forsyth says, “The great, the fundamental, sacrament is the Sacrament of the Word.”
Finally, Preach the Word PASTORALLY. You are after all speaking, one human to another, like them in the human condition. One of the reasons I resonate with the great London preacher, Leslie Weatherhead, and more recently in our time, Dr. Bob Schuller, is that a theologian/psychologist can speak to people with brains ‘wired’ by today’s education, enabling the modern hearer to ‘catch on’ to the Gospel’s import. Christ came to be God with us. May you, David, sit where they sit, to weep when they weep and laugh when they laugh–and, above all to be an example of holiness. As Chaucer says of his clerk, “He was a learned man, rich in thought and work, a noble example to his sheep he was, that first he wrought and afterwards he taught.” I will tell you, as a minister, now retired, and sitting in the pew–much preaching and sermons fail to deal with real life.
“Preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season, urgently at all times when it is convenient and when it is not, correct and rebuke when they need it, encourage them to do right, and all the time be feeding them patiently with God’s Word.” (The Living Bible)
That is my charge. God bless you and your people.