The Importance of the Sacraments

I found this article while I was preparing to preach for Baptism of Our Lord Sunday this weekend.
Peter J. Leithart makes the arguement that Protestants (Lutherans are Protestants) must have a high view of the efficacy of the sacraments. In his blog post he says:

Still, baptism is different from most ministry of the word. In worship, in most preaching and teaching, even in the absolution, the Word isn’t addressed to me by name. In baptism it is: “I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Baptism individualizes and personalizes God’s promise. At the font, there’s no doubt that the promise of forgiveness and justification is directed to me in particular. The difference is somewhat analogous to the difference between an Oscar winner telling the adoring crowd with all sincerity, “I love you all,” and that same Oscar winner saying, in the intimacy of private conversation, “Linda, I love you.”

In Baptism, we are named, claimed, and gifted for live in Christ. The promise is directly addressed to you. You are loved by God.!

Read the whole thing.
Pastor Matt

Preaching style

Every preacher of the Gospel has their own style and own way of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.  There is no better way and sermons can be engaging and effective in every style.  In fact, I sometimes use different styles of preaching just to shake things up for the congregation and for me.

My default style is to begin right away with the sermon and to not end with a prayer/blessing or an amen.  To me, the most important parts of a sermon are the very beginning and the very end.  The beginning of the sermon sets us up as the gathered community to hear the truth of God’s word.  The ending is what I want you to remember.

The amen at the end is your job.  Amen is a sign of appreciation from the gathered community.  It is not an announcement that I am done.  You may or may not want to give your appreciation to a particular sermon.  Maybe you don’t agree with what I said at all (don’t say amen).  Maybe you didn’t understand a thing I just said (don’t say amen).   If you appreciate what you heard in the sermon, it is your privilege to add your amen (say it loud and proud).