September 2017: Without Words
What a shame—yet another minister is retiring. And this one really had something to say! No one would ever sleep when he was preaching—not even on a hot and sticky Wednesday evening after a long and stressful day at work. His words really carried weight, not only in the divine service, but also in pastoral visits, and even in the brief statements he would often make while saying good-bye to people at church. And it was quite clear to everyone: behind these words there was a great deal of experience, both in life and in faith. And now this fellow is going to find himself sitting in the pew! Many would have loved to see him carry on a little longer in active service.
But who has ever said that a retired minister is no longer capable of preaching? Although it may no longer be in words, he can often preach just as effectively as he did before! A sermon without words is at times even more effective than one delivered from the altar.
The way he accepts the young ministers (who are at times something of an acquired taste), the way he deals with the changes that are made, the way he tries to help those who have difficulty accepting the amalgamation of their congregation with another, the way he adapts to the new realities and developments in church, the way he himself practises what he used to teach in the past—all of this is already quite exemplary!
How wonderful it is when a congregation has preachers like that!