By Bob Hiller –
Well, the ol’ Haymaker here may be running out of stuff to write about. Tonight, as I finished listening to the Giants-Mets game on the radio, I thought it might be good to encourage you, the Jagged Mafia, to consider shutting off your televisions for the MLB Playoffs this year to try giving an audible following to the games leading up to the Fall Classic. I considered extolling the virtue of allowing your mind to paint a picture of what is happening as you were guided by ESPN’s marvelous broadcast teams. It struck me that I should commend finding old Vin Scully broadcasts to you, as he has recently retired. I figured I could offer some advice on what preachers could gain from the vocational skill of Scully, who, quite frankly, should be considered the voice of baseball. As I was about to put the finishing touches on this thing, it struck me: I wrote that exact blog last year. Yep, this blogger may be hitting writer’s block!
Lately, this has become a bit of a theme for me. I’m finding myself struggling for ideas, and not just with the blog. Even with my sermon prep, I am finding it harder to come up with ideas that I find creative and engaging. Many of my illustrations are becoming redundant, and it seems hard to find new ones. Though it may not be “writer’s block” properly speaking, I just don’t feel like I have much to say. Well, nothing new anyway. It kind of feels like the same old message every single week.
But I do wonder if that is such a bad thing. After all, the same old message every single week is Jesus! The reality is that, in my calling as a preacher, God hasn’t given me too much “new” to say. He has given me and all preachers the same old message to deliver every single week: the forgiveness of sins and promise of life on account of the crucified and risen Jesus. That is what I am to deliver to my congregation. That is what your pastor is to deliver to your ears and heart: Jesus, bloody and risen, forgiving and freeing. Every single week.
There is something wonderful about this sort of monotony, don’t you think? After all, this “same old” message is entirely new in this world of Law and sin. The old world we live in is full of judgment and expectation, demand and condemnation. Every relationship you are in, every vocation placed upon your shoulders, and every job you are given, exacts something from you. You either succeed or fail. Either way your work is never done. The law of this old world is always there demanding from you, taking from you.
But not on Sunday. Not in the sermon. Not in the sacrament. Not in the absolution. There, nothing is demanded from you except your sins. Jesus demands that you hand them over so He can free you from them. There, for you who are burdened and defeated by this old world of Law, He comes with something new, namely, the same old forgiveness and mercy for sinners like you. And if your pastor does his job right, He will keep giving you the same old Gospel and the same old Jesus so that you might be renewed and refreshed in Christ to face this old burdensome world with confidence.
Running out of ideas may not play well for a blog, but who knows? Maybe running out of new and creative ideas might be the best in thing in this world for the pastor and his church. Once his new ideas run out, old Jesus can get back to the center where He belongs. After all, it is that same old message of Jesus that will, in the end, make all things new!