This week marks the end of two terms' teaching as students preach their final sermons. In my last session I try to make room for personal reflection on the issues they have learned the previous twenty weeks and, of course, they have to make their evaluations of me as professor! But as a valediction I like to picture some key qualities that I yearn for them to possess after having passed through these preaching classes.
Naturally there are specifics that I hope they will remember. Like the curse of being 'sermony' and its antidote of pursuing the meaning and purpose of the text - what God is saying and doing through this particular Scripture passage. I shall hope that what they learned about structure and delivery will continue to bear fruit. Oh, and that they will always be interesting good news tellers for God's sake, building up people by God's grace not pulling them down by graceless to-do lists. No teacher wants to think they are responsible for others inflicting more boredom on (often long-suffering) people of God!
If I might sum up my prayer about students coming out of my class it is that these are preachers who:
· Love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and really love their hearers too.
· Love God’s Word with transparent affection, serious study and razor-sharp application.
· Remain humbly open to the Holy Spirit’s direction and creativity.
· Prepare well and give their best within the sermon with not a word wasted.
· Live out the consequences as worshippers alive to God's big-picture purposes.
May they be people of love, of the Word, spiritually alive, wonderfully prepared and willing to live out the startling, counter-cultural claims of the Kingdom of God, assured of Jesus Christ's eternally significant promises and power for their ministries and their people.
I am sure some aspects could be better expressed and I may have missed out things you see as important. I'd love your comments. But I really value your prayer for this next generation of preachers out of Northern Seminary.