During the final year of seminary for Lutherans, there is a final panel of church leaders (both pastors and other leaders) that you go before to determine whether you can be ordained or not. This panel has been on the journey of this individual for the past 4 years, meeting 2 other times with the candidate. This final panel is the culmination of the past 4 years. It’s a big deal.
Part of the process at this stage is submitting a sermon for their review. The feedback I received during this final panel on my sermons was this: to make sure I include the death and resurrection of Jesus in each and every sermon. As one panel member told me: “You’ve got to take me to the cross when you preach, Alex.”
This person was right. Sometimes Jesus wouldn’t be mentioned at all in my sermons, or maybe only once in passing. My sermons border lined on simply being self-help talks, like a Ted talk (which, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Ted talk. But they aren’t sermons).
After that final panel, I always made sure to tie in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in each and every sermon, every single time.
Jesus is the Reason
Jesus is the heart of who we are as a church. He is the whole reason for why any church exists.
I believe that people need to hear about Jesus, for a variety of reasons.
With Jesus dying and rising again, this means that Jesus is the ultimate author of second chances. And when those second chances don’t work out, a third, and fourth, and fifth, and…. As many chances as it takes. All of us at one time or another have needed a second chance (or third, or fourth). With the life of Jesus, he was in a sense granted a second chance after his death. We are granted this as well.
Jesus was both a human and God. This means that God actually dwelled within a human. What this means is that we can have a personal relationship with God as well. Because of this God-human connection that was Jesus, God understands what it’s like to be human. We as Christians do not believe in a distant, far off God, but a God who came to this earth, in all of the mess and dirt, and lived among us, teaching and healing and feeding us.
God even understands death. However, death was not the final act in the life of Jesus. The story continued on. The same is true for us. When we feel hopeless, lost, that we are at the end of our story, we can look to Jesus and believe that we can find hope, become found, and that there is more to our story.
The Church of the Future
This is why I believe that the church of the future is focused on Jesus. The world needs to hear about the God of second chances, that we can have a personal relationship with God, and that God understands us even in death.
In a world of snap judgements, shallow and broken relationships, and misunderstanding, Jesus is someone this world needs to hear about.
Peace and blessings,