In two new videos, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison encourages church workers — ordained clergy in one and all other church workers in the other.
To view the 6-minute video encouraging clergy, visit lcms.org/video/forpastors. And visit lcms.org/video/forchurchworkers for the 7-minute video encouraging other workers, in which he also asks congregation members to encourage their workers.
Harrison addresses preaching in the video of encouragement for clergymen — quoting St. Paul in the Book of Timothy to “preach the Word.”
“That task is an extraordinarily difficult one,” Harrison acknowledges, pointing out the regular weekly and other opportunities (such as Lent and for funerals) when pastors preach, on top of other duties. “It’s not easy business being a preacher.
“But I want to encourage you,” he continues. “The Word of God is living and mighty and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing unto the marrow. And the Word of the Lord does not return void. So, don’t lose heart, brothers. The Gospel does its business, even through you and through me.”
He suggests reading Martin Luther’s Invocavit sermons that he preached in Lent of 1522, as an exercise of how “he drives things home personally” to his congregation by talking directly to them. Harrison adds that he has been reading those sermons lately.
“I would just recommend [to] all of you brothers, as an exercise, [to] take a look at the Invocavit sermons, particularly during Lent, and then note all the pronouns that Luther uses and where he uses them.”
As an example, he points to the first of those sermons, found in volume 51 of Luther’s Works, starting on Page 70.
“He says ‘I’ — talks about himself as a person who is a believer and also who is concerned about the congregation — is responsible as a preacher,” Harrison says of Luther.
“Look at all the places he uses the word ‘you’ when he delivers the people the Law: ‘you are sinners, you have fallen short.’ And then, also, he does so with the Gospel. He talks directly to people in front of him, people he knows, people he talks directly to, people he talks to face-to-face and he looks in the eye.”
“The Lord bless your preaching,” Harrison says as the video ends. “It’s challenging business. There are many different ways, of course, to preach. But take a look at Luther and I think we’ll all be blessed.”
In the other video that focuses on “all the other church workers — the DCEs, the teachers, all the people working in our schools, our secretaries, everybody who makes the church work in addition to the pastor,” Harrison asks viewers to “repent of taking advantage of and taking for granted all of our church workers.
“You know, they put in unbelievable hours, they don’t get paid very well compared to the going rates in most places, and they deserve our great thanks and our love.”
He asks congregation members: “Would you do something this Lent? Would you please look at the church workers in your congregation and reach out to them? Reach out to them, thank them for their service, would you please? That’s vital. Say something positive about them.
“Would you pray for them? Would you pray for them daily?,” he asks. “Would you give them something, would you take care of them, would you give them the keys to your cabin, would you give them a little time away, would you be an advocate for them for an increase in salary, would you be generous to them? Would you join me in thinking about how these church workers can be honored in your midst?”
Quoting Martin Luther and St. Paul on the need to care for one another as members of one body, Harrison adds, “We’re a body, a fellowship, and in Christ we love and care for one another. Please, love and care for — speak well of, speak to and be an advocate for — our DCEs, teachers and all the other church workers who are such a great blessing to us.”
Posted April 2, 2014