The Chair and the Desk, 10/22/15

From the chair:

“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

-2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Earlier this week, I was talking with a friend about how hard it can be to keep moving for school or work or whatever else seems necessary in the service of God. We often don’t feel like making new friends, and we’re always sad to leave old friends miles and miles away. This morning, this verse reminded me that in this, we are not alone. We are not alone because the Church has been going through this for 2,000 years. We are not alone because we can pray for and bless one another, even from far away. We are not alone because the Lord is faithful–he will honor his own word; he will establish us; he will guard us against the evil one; he will direct our hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.

From the desk:

The following quotes are a bit complex, but I think they suggest a profound truth about the way we should hear and preach sermons. An introductory remark will probably be more helpful than a follow-up comment: Charles Campbell is arguing that preaching should not centrally about individuals getting their questions answered and needs met by God; rather, through preaching, God is creating the collective people–the Church–he wants to create.

“God in Jesus Christ is not simply the predicate of individual human experience or needs, but is an active subject building up a people to embody and witness to Jesus’ presence in and for the world…

…For example, American culture would describe the welcoming of a new member into the church through baptism as the addition of an individual to a voluntary institution, which is a collection of individuals. In contrast to this description, the preacher’s task is to redescribed the practice of baptism as an episode in the ongoing story of God’s active gathering and building up of an eschatological people who carry forward Jesus’ story in and for the world…

…Rather than asking how texts connect with predetermined individual needs or how they connect with ‘general human experience’ or how they are relevant to American society, preachers should quite consciously ask what the Spirit is saying to the church through the church’s Scripture.”

-Charles Campbell, Preaching Jesus, 1997 ed., pp.227, 229, 230

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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