“We as preachers need to understand ourselves as one beggar telling another beggar where to find food,” said Andrew Pearson, dean of Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, during Beeson Divinity School’s opening convocation Aug. 29.
Preaching from Ezekiel 37:1–10 about the valley of dry bones, Pearson said this passage gives a glimpse into the role of the preacher. The preacher is to be faithful to the Word of God. The preacher is to proclaim the Word of God. The preacher is to pray in the power of the Spirit for life to come into his or her dead listeners. God tells Ezekiel, Pearson said, to preach and to pray.
“What the Bible addresses at any given moment is a matter of life and death,” he said. “What we are proclaiming is of supreme importance. We’re not getting up and giving helpful hints for living. We’re not getting up and giving good advice. We’re getting up and giving good news, good lifesaving news that Jesus Christ has died for you and has been raised for you.”
And if a preacher’s focus is more on his or her ability than the Holy Spirit’s ability, “your preaching will produce some of the best-looking dead folks you could ever want in your church.
“Effective preaching is a supernatural event, and we should use the supernatural agency of God that he has given us: namely, prayer,” Pearson continued. “So as preachers, we must give ourselves over to prayer as Ezekiel did. Apart from a great move of the Lord, we can do nothing.
“What you are doing here, first years, second years, third years, any year, [is] not just filling your mind with knowledge,” he said. “You are learning what it means to speak the oracles of God to a dying, a dead, and broken and sinful, estranged world that has no hope for rescue apart from the Lord Jesus.”
Earlier during the service, 34 new divinity students were recognized and welcomed by Beeson Divinity School’s Dean Timothy George. Divinity student and Student Government Association President Waters Faulkner led in the renewal of the inaugural covenant, a covenant made each year by the divinity school community since its inception.
Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland also brought greetings from the trustees and university.
“This room bears witness to values we share at Samford: to worship and serve the Lord with excellence and beauty in all that we do,” he said. “As we gather in this sacred space with a cloud of witnesses looking on, I am reminded of two things. First, we inhabit a house that we did not built. With gratitude to those who prepared the way, my second thought this morning is we look toward a better building yet to come; a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. I give thanks for the gift of this place, and for you, and for this community that nourishes our souls and causes us to lift our weary heads, and for the hope that we have in Christ alone.”
Watch yesterday’s sermon on Beeson Divinity School’s YouTube channel.