We are hearing much about the need to "turn the page" so that we will leave behind the disruptions, disappointments and darkness of 2020. There is no doubt that the deeply troubling circumstances of the past year related to the COVID pandemic and American political life have significantly affected the life and mission of the church. As Christian people, however, we do not place our faith in making "resolutions," but rather, following the teaching of Scripture, acknowledge genuine change is the work of divine grace which we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. The change of our life God desires is the fruit of repentance, confession, forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal that is the ground of Christian hope. This is the work of God among us in which we participate through the Spirit's wisdom and power.
As an act of repentance, I offer some thoughts on what we preachers might consider in 2021 for our calling to the ministry of the Word as we seek to "redeem the time."
- To preach unashamedly Jesus Christ and him crucified as both the church's message and its way of life.
- To immerse ourselves in the whole of Scripture in a reverent and thoughtful manner which directs our attention to the identity and action of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- To preach as an act of worship and an offering of praise to the Triune God.
- To joyfully set aside time each day to pray, study and reflect on the holy calling and work of preaching.
- To listen to Scripture to discern the judging, pardoning, disciplining and formative work of Christ and the Spirit.
- To tell less stories about people and more stories about the great God and Savior who we worship and serve.
- To focus on the glorious calling we have received in Jesus Christ: to be holy as God is holy—to be saints.
- To proclaim the Word in a manner that aims to build up the church as the people of God, the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- To not only call the church to love of God and neighbor, but to embody love of God and neighbor in the activity of preaching.
- To pray for grace to discern the difference between those things that are destined to pass away and those things that are of God's new creation in Christ.