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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Job #1 Is Preaching

The first and foremost thing a pastor is called to do is preach Christ.

Such preaching is faithful when it is a confession of the Word of Christ.

This faithful preaching of Christ is catechetical, because it is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His Name.

This faithful preaching of repentance is always sacramental, because it is a preaching to and from the dying and rising of Holy Baptism, to and from the Body and Blood of Christ at His Altar.

This sacramental preaching is likewise liturgical, not so much because it is "about the Liturgy," but because it is a fundamental and constitutive part of the Liturgy. As the Holy Communion is the heart of the Liturgy, so is faithful preaching the lungs of the Liturgy.

Everything else the pastor does, in the Liturgy or otherwise, is (or ought to be) a continuation or an echo of his faithful preaching of Christ. Hence, everything the pastor says and does, as well as the way he says and does it, ought to be a faithful confession of Christ and His Word. The pastor also lives liturgically, that is, by repentant faith in the forgiveness of his sins, to and from his Baptism, to and from the Lord's Altar.

So, too, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy, in their own way, are to be a faithful preaching of Christ. They should confess His Word. They should catechize the people in repentant faith, that is, in the humility and confidence of the Cross of Christ. They should move to and from the font and the Altar in harmony with the evangelical heart and lungs of the Liturgy.

Where the preaching is not faithful, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will falter along with it; they will fall short and fail to confess Christ, whether they are outwardly extravagant or impoverished. For it is impossible to confess Christ where His Word is not preached.

But where the preaching is faithful, there the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will also be lifted up and will rise to the high and holy occasion of Christ in His great high priestly service. Whether in simple or elaborate elegance, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will serve as a reverent and courteous confession of repentant faith in that sacred Word and work of Christ.

Where the lungs and the heart are healthy and working properly together, the body also will live and move in the health and strength of Christ, not only surviving but thriving.