Rev. Steven E. Thomas, Pastor
Pastor Steven Thomas was born in Houston, Texas. He graduated from New Mexico Tech with a BS in Chemistry. He was working as a chemist in Baltimore for a few years, and then decided to pursue the dream of being a pastor. In 1993, Pastor Steve graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg.
Pastor Steve enjoys hiking, kayaking, and reading. Pastor Steve’s passion is always looking for greater understanding - especially in how our expanding scientific knowledge reveals additional wonders of God.
Some of his favorite books are The Bible (of course), Awareness by Anthony DeMello, One Minute Nonsense by Anthony DeMello, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, E=mc2 by David Bodanis, and the Tolkein trilogy.
The Role of the Sermon
Preaching is probably the most important thing that a pastor does in the church - in addition to the direct divine acts of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. In the Lutheran Church, we actually consider preaching to be the literal Word of God. In this way, preaching is equivalent to the written scripture of the Bible.
That is a stunning reality that I am not sure many people really understand.
Preaching is not supposed to simply be the personal opinion of the preacher. The sermon is supposed to be a careful study of the scriptural text for the week (or whatever topic is being preached about). This study and contemplation is an attempt to figure out what this text was saying to the people that it was originally spoken to (most scripture was actually spoken out loud rather than simply read silently). Then, this study of scripture is supposed to try to make the leap to figure out what this slice of the Word of God is saying to the people of God in the particular place that it is being preached in.
Every church is actually a very unique mix of people and cultures. Just think about St. B’s.... we have a mix of different ages. We have a mix of people from different states in addition to people who have lived in the Hanover area all their life. Some grew up farmers, others grew up in the city. And the list could go on and on. So, the sermon is an attempt to have the Sunday text directly apply to the lives and culture of this one particular place, St. Bartholomew’s. And in this particular period of time, with all of its unique dynamics of social issues.
Again, preaching, at its best, is not supposed to be the simple opinion of the preacher. It is supposed to reflect the Word of God - that is, the opinion of God. (Does that cause you to smile? ??) But it is actually true.
And so, like scripture, the preached Word will sometimes comfort its hearers. It will sometimes affirm what its hearers feel and believe. But sometimes, the preached Word will challenge its hearers. Sometimes it may make a person quite uncomfortable. Sometimes it may actually irritate its hearers. Just like scripture....
The role of preaching is not to merely affirm our personal opinions. It should help you for a moment, to see and experience another reality - the reality that Jesus calls the Kingdom of God. That reality is reflected in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 through 7, or Matt 5:1-12). If you look very closely at that scripture, you should feel a little bit uncomfortable - maybe a lot uncomfortable. But also very thankful and blessed.
The role of preaching is to sometimes hold up a vision of what this person or congregation is or what it could be with the help of God. Sometimes the role is to comfort. Sometimes it is to challenge. Sometimes it is a mirror. But God can use almost any sermon to do anything that God wants to do - in your heart and mind. You might find yourself delighted or crying with thankfulness or a whole host of other emotions and responses. Remember, this is literally supposed to be God’s living Word to you and in you in that very moment.
It is also quite all right to feel like the preacher got it completely wrong. After all, they are just a limited person like everyone else. And Martin Luther firmly taught that every baptized child of God has a responsibility to figure out for themselves what God is really saying through scripture. That is, critique of the preacher is built into the fabric of the Lutheran Church.
May Christ bless and guide us together in this holy journey that we are on.
- Pastor Steve
Pastor Messages of Special Interest
Suicide - Surviving Life’s Darkest Moments
Video of Archived Sermons
Click here to View Video of Archived Sermons on You Tube
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