Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

The Un­spo­ken Ser­mons

I wasn’t at Abid­ing Grace this week­end to preach a ser­mon, but I couldn’t help but take this chance to talk about some of the pow­er­ful ser­mons I’ve seen and heard th­ese past few days — ser­mons more pow­er­ful than any I could speak. You see, I’m writ­ing this “ser­mon sum­mary” from Win­ner, South Dakota, where God saw fit to take my wife’s brother to heaven through a semi-ac­ci­dent. He died be­cause he chose not to run over the car that pulled out in front of him in a 65-mile-an­hour zone or the truck com­ing the op­po­site di­rec­tion. In­stead, he took the ditch, en­dan­ger­ing only him­self. That self­less act set in mo­tion a se­ries of ser­mons — vis­ual demon­stra­tions of God’s love.

The ser­mons were non­stop from the of­fers of help here in Cov­ing­ton to get us on our way to South Dakota to the stream of vis­i­tors at my wife’s par­ents’ home. Per­son af­ter per­son showed God’s love to our fam­ily and spoke of God’s love that they saw in Joel. There was the lady who had never met any­one else in the fam­ily, who spoke about the way Joel hopped out of the truck he was work­ing on to catch her son and buy some of the pop­corn he was sell­ing for a fundraiser when ev­ery­one else had given the cold shoul­der.

There was the Na­tive Amer­i­can man who brought a dream catcher for the fam­ily and spoke of the way Joel al­ways told him there was so much more to God than su­per­sti­tion. There was even the bar­tender who came to the funeral and told mom and dad that she wanted to start com­ing to church be­cause it was clear that Joel “got it” and she wanted to “get it” too. He had preached plenty of ser­mons to the hun­dreds of peo­ple that packed that church to praise God for the gift of faith Joel had and the cer­tain heav­enly home he had pre­pared.

But some of the clear­est ser­mons – tes­ti­monies to God’s grace and power — came from his fam­ily. Their reliance on the sac­ri­fice of Je­sus Christ for our sins and their trust in his prom­ises of a pain-free eter­nity shone through as they spoke with all the well-wish­ers. Their de­sire to give God glory and share his mes­sage couldn’t have been clearer as I saw them pick hymns for the funeral with lines like: “A mighty fortress is our God,” “I know that my Re­deemer lives … He lives tri­umphant from the grave, He lives eter­nally to save … He lives my man­sion to pre­pare; He lives to bring me safely there,” or “Heaven is my home. And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand. Heaven is my father­land. Heaven is my home.”

You see, any ser­mon worth its salt will re­mind you of the core mes­sage of God’s word: Even though we mess up and don’t de­serve it, God so loved us that he gave his one and only son to die that we might live. As we live for him, re­flect­ing that love of God in our lives and act­ing on the sure con­fi­dence God has placed in our hearts (some­thing that can not be faked in a time like this) — we preach ser­mons that more peo­ple hear than we ever re­al­ize.

I guess that church mar­quee makes a good point: “You may be the only ser­mon some peo­ple ever hear.” God bless your preach­ing. Pas­tor Jonathan E. Scharf Abid­ing Grace Lutheran


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