TIP of the day: From the blogs - a Lutheran take on preaching and exegesis of the propers

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Oct 24 2015 10:25 PM

From PMM 225 The Church Year - class notes or synopsis(?)

• Luther makes the distinction between Christ as example and Christ as gift. In his 1521 pamphlet, A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels: "When you open the book containing the gospels and read or hear how Christ comes here or there, or how
someone is brought to him, you should therein perceive the sermon or the gospel through which he is coming to you, or you are being brought to him. For the preaching of the gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to him. When you see how he works, however, and how he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that faith is accomplishing this in you and that he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favor through the gospel. If you pause here and let him do you good, that is, if you believe that he benefits and helps you, then you really have it. Then Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift” (AE 35:121).

• Liturgical preaching is proclamation (monergistic) rather than communication (synergistic). See Schaibley article. “Proclamation is more like a sacrament than other oral communication such as teaching or informing. The basic presupposition for such oral communication tends to be the freedom of choice. The words provide information about God and Christ which one is expected to appropriate or accept by an act of the will. One may, of course, insist that such choosing is aided by grace or the workings of the Spirit and so not only a matter of human caprice. But even so the presupposition remains the same, that of the continuously existing subject making its choice over against a battery of facts” (Forde, 147).

• The sermon preaches the liturgy (the words and gifts of Christ) rather than preaching about the liturgy. Using the sermon as commentary or exegesis of the liturgy is the death of liturgical preaching!

V. Liturgical preaching draws on both the ordinaries and the propers as well as hymnody for sermonic imagery and illustration.

• Even as the pastor exegetes the text for preaching so he needs also to exegete the propers. I would suggest the following pattern:

1. Begin with the Holy Gospel. What is the central theme of this pericope? How does this theme determine the theme of the day?

2. How does the Old Testament Reading relate to the Holy Gospel?

3. How does the Epistle function in light of the theme set by the Holy Gospel?

4. How does the Introit (especially the antiphon) accent the doxological nature of this particular day?

5. How does the Collect tutor us in prayer that grows out of a faithful hearing of the Word of God appointed for this day?

6. How does the Gradual form a bridge between the Old Testament Reading and the readings from the New Testament (Epistle and Holy Gospel)?

7. How does the Proper Preface give sacramental focus to the season or day?

8. How does the hymn of the day give doxological interpretation to the Holy Gospel? What other hymns reflect the theme of the day?

-Prof.John T.Pless XII.8.2001


The questions could easily fit as a fixed preface to sermons - predefined text in a manner similar to the Logos required indexing fields ( see https://community.logos.com/forums/p/117292/770029.aspx ) or as an element of the worship planning process.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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