Most of you have heard the story of how I cane to be a pastor. It was not my childhood dream or a sense of duty or something like that. It happened slowly and with great resistance on my part. It came through a growing love for theology and a deep desire to know more. The central question I sought answers for was the fundamental inquiry which has long been at the heart of Christian theology. It is, quite simply, “What must I do to be saved?”

How can a word save you? It can steer away from harm and danger. It can encourage and inspire to do the right thing. It can tell you where to walk and how to live. A word can be a sweet comfort or a stern warning. It can speak of truth in a world of darkness. A word can speak of salvation, if only you can grasp it.

Anxiety is really starting to piss me off. My anxiety always makes me mad, but I’ve begun to train myself with the question, “What does it matter?” Since the answer is usually, “It doesn’t matter at all, so jog on…” But it’s other people’s anxiety that has begun to piss me off too. Now, I don’t yell at those dealing with it, like “GET OVER IT ALREADY!” No, that is neither Christ like, and usually the anxious person’s anxiety is usually increased, and does nobody any good. It’s counter productive.

Last Sunday we talked about the arrival of John the Baptist. This is the great forerunner of Jesus, the famous voice crying out in the wilderness. He shows up baptizing the people of God as they repent of their sins and renew their longing for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. And as we find out in our text today, John is the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Elijah the prophet.

By Paul Koch

I have occasionally been asked about my preaching style. That is, every now and then someone will wonder why I preach the way I do. How do I choose what to focus on from a given text? Why don’t I use notes when I preach? Why won’t I just stay put in the pulpit like a good preacher? And to tell the truth, the short answer to such questions is that I am personally a terrible sermon listener. When I try to put myself in your shoes, when I actually sit in the pew and listen to a sermon, I get all fidgety, and it’s hard to keep focus and stay on track. My wife would most likely tell you it is easier to sit with all five of our children by herself than it is to be next to me. So, I have tried to make it a habit of wondering what it is like to be where you are, to be the listener rather than the speaker. I wonder what sort of questions you might be asking yourself, what sort of thoughts are going through your mind when you come to church. In fact, I wonder if you ever question what this is all about. When you get right down to it, what is church about?