Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are You Nervous?

This past Thursday I met with the youth to be confirmed on Reformation, October 25, 2009. I require them to make a visit to a non-Lutheran congregation and complete a report form which we then discuss. Often the conversation is about peripherals but this Thursday it got pretty deep. They discussed in great detail what they saw (mostly non-denominational or evangelical congregations) and what they did not see. They talked about why they missed things like an altar or the liturgy or Holy Communion. They talked about the character of the music and, surprisingly enough, most of them liked the idea of additional instruments but found the songs somewhat lacking in depth and meaning. They talked about me and what I do as Pastor, the vestments that hide my personality so that that office is the focus and Christ the message... About how so much of the liturgy includes Scripture word for word from the Bible, paraphrased in the liturgy, and expounded in the sermon.

And then came a question. Do you get nervous when you preach?

Yes, I do get nervous -- not the nerves of one speaking before a large group of people for the first time but nervous in the sense that I have this great opportunity and I better not blow it... nervous in the sense that I have a great responsibility to proclaim with no uncertainty Jesus Christ and Him only and I better not distract people from what is the most important Word of words... nervous in the sense that the one time I get to see so many of God's people and some new folks together in one place is this moment and I hope and pray that I use it well and use it faithfully...

It is my great delight and privilege to stand before God's people in the stead and in the person of Christ -- in the absolution, in the pulpit, at the altar. It is this moment that I wait for all week long and it is this moment that carries me through whatever there is to come in the week ahead. I am nervous because I hope and pray that God's people see our time together around the Word and Table of the Lord in the same way. This is source and summit -- what fuels our faith and our common life as God's people and the goal that carries us through everything we do until we are together again as God's people given the privilege of worship and the service of His gifts of grace.

I still get nervous and that last of the three steps into the pulpit cause me to pause in my heart and pray that I may faithfully proclaim the Law to convict the hearts of the hearers and the Gospel to enliven their hearts by the power of the Spirit and the lavish grace won by our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the end they were surprised but understanding... You don't seem nervous... But they were glad I still get nervous... And when I stop feeling this nervousness, then just maybe it is time to sit in the pew and pass the office on to one who will feel it...

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