What energizes me in preparing sermons and Bible classes is how the Word illuminates what’s going on in contemporary society and individual lives. I don’t know enough by myself to do that, so I read, read, read. Academic analyses of culture always set me to thinking, and my goal is to try and enlighten listeners and learners to what it means to follow Jesus in our times, not the 1950s.
Rereading To Change the World by James Davison Hunter of the University of Virginia is an example. What he wrote applies obviously to our nation but sometimes also to the institutional church. He says there is “a tendency toward the politicization of nearly everything.” “The amount of law that exists in any society is always inversely related to the coherence and stability of its common culture: law increases as cultural consensus decreases” (To Change the World, 102). Simply, America has lost its center, sometimes the church loses its first love, and laws and bylaws are not the answer. Your congregational ministry centered on the Good News of Jesus has always been important, and it’s even more significant this new year, given the dysfunction of so much in today’s culture. So blessings on your exegeting the biblical text, exegeting the culture and giving your congregation “confidence and cheerful courage” in the Gospel, as Dr. Walther said long ago.
I was greatly encouraged by the most recent meeting of Concordia Seminary’s Board of Regents. Besides routine business, the entire afternoon of Jan. 18 was set aside for conversation between the regents and the faculty. After lunch together, a devotion on Rom. 12:18 was followed by conversations that were serious, friendly, thoughtful and deeply respectful. We concluded with Col. 3:12-17 and enjoyed dinner together in Koburg Hall. I went home that day thanking our Lord for His goodness and guidance.
In the midst of Epiphany, you’re thinking ahead to Lent. May you be energized for the mission! You are precious and your congregational ministry can provide insight and hope for people living in today’s confusing times. “Law increases as cultural consensus decreases.” Lead with the Gospel!
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis