It’s a pivotal moment in the life of every seminarian: the first sermon.
September 2013– For the fifteen men studying at the Concordia Theological Institute for the Holy Ministry in South Sudan, that moment came in August when Rev. Robert Roberts, an LCMS pastor and college math instructor, arrived in Yambio to teach them homiletics (the art of preaching).
In the beginning, it wasn’t easy.
“The students’ presentations at devotions were totally Law; there was no Gospel,” Rev. Roberts remembers. “This is typical, because we all want a set of rules we can follow.”
For the next week, Rev. Roberts spent time teaching the men how to find the Gospel in any Bible lesson, how to organize a sermon, and how to preach with minimal notes. They listened to and analyzed other pastors’ sermons.
Then it was time to sink or swim.
The seminarians spent their evenings crafting their own first sermons. “One of the women commented that they’d never seen such quiet nights, when they were all hard at work!” laughed Rev. Roberts. “Some of the men were terrified.”
At the end of the course, the men took turns preaching their very first sermons before the class and their teacher.
“Every sermon included Law and Gospel,” Rev. Roberts said. “Every one of the students preached an acceptable sermon, and some of them preached really, really excellent sermons. They worked very hard.”
The timing of this LHF-sponsored homiletics class couldn’t be better, as the seminarians have only three more months of study before receiving their year-long vicarage assignments.
As they pack, the students will include the new e-readers given to them by Rev. Roberts and his wife, Eileen. The readers are loaded with various translations of the Bible, the Greek New Testament, The Book of Concord, and other pastoral helps.
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