Dear Friends,

I know many of you pray for Church of the Messiah and that many of you pray for me. Thank you! Please keep praying! Please pray for me. Please pray for me when I preach and teach. Please pray as well for all who will preach or teach the Bible that week, as part of Church of the Messiah. This includes the Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, youth group leader, Church on Wednesday speaker and the intern who preaches at the 8AM service and all others from Messiah active in teaching the Bible outside of the ministries of Messiah. Here are some things to pray for in particular.

First, pray that the preacher will be a herald. Another way to say this is that the person will desire to have the biblical text set the agenda for the message; that the biblical text will control the message. A “herald” delivers a message from the King. He or she does not deliver their own opinions and ideas. They speak on behalf of their King and speak the King’s message. It is important that every teacher and preacher of the Bible will have this as their goal – to listen to, and understand what the Bible is saying and then make that their message – all to God’s glory not their own.

Second, please pray that the preaching and teaching will be clear. There is a very old saying that is very helpful. “Mist in the pulpit leads to fog in the pews”. The effect of me being unclear and fuzzy when I preach is greatly magnified in those who hear. So please pray that all who teach and preach the Bible will listen to the Bible well and seek to speak with as much simple clarity possible.

Third, please pray that the teaching and preaching will build bridges. This Sunday I will preach on John 21. This book was written in Greek about 1950 years ago. It was written when the Roman Empire was a mighty Empire, almost everyone believed many, many gods existed, and Christians were a miniscule minority. I need to understand the text I will preach on, and I will need to build a bridge from that world to you and me. We live in postmodern, advanced capitalist, post-Christendom Ottawa. I need to help us see how this text written so long ago speaks with wisdom and power to people living today. All good biblical preaching and teaching is to do this.

Fourth, pray that the preaching will always be shaped by the Gospel and proclaim the Gospel. In Luke 24 Jesus tells us that everything in the Bible in some ways prepares us to know and understand the Gospel. As well, that it is only the Gospel that makes clear what is in the Bible. The Gospel is the news that God has acted with grace and power to do what we can never do. He has provided the means for ordinary people to be made right with God. This “means” is the death and resurrection of Jesus as our substitute. This gift is offered to us and can only be received by humble, penitent faith. Pray the Gospel is proclaimed and shapes the sermon.

Fifth, please pray that when we preach and teach to Christians, we will do this in the hope that non-Christians will listen in. This means that we will speak of other viewpoints with accuracy and sympathy. It also means that we hope our non-Christian friends and family will be present, in a loving company of Christians, as God’s word is opened and Jesus is lifted high!