Summary: A sermon preached September 13, 2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Audubon, Iowa. It was Sunday School/Christian Education Rally Sunday. This sermon focuses on the necessity of sound teaching from the Word in the life of the congregation.
One of the things we put a great deal of importance on in our American society today is education. We encourage our kids to “stay in school” and to do well in school. We now also live in an age where most of our high school graduates go off to college, or some type of specialized education in order to get the kind of jobs that they want. Where a couple of generations ago, it was still somewhat more common to view graduation from high school as a noble goal, but not necessary in order to make a living, today, times are different. We don’t make as big of a deal about 8th grade graduations as we once did, even in my generation.
Now let’s imagine for a moment that you had a child in school, and they were in Math class. Early on, we learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. One of the basic rules of math that doesn’t change is the fact that 2+2=4. You would assume that if on your child’s math test, they answered 2+2=5, they’d fail the test, right? What happens if you don’t teach that child that 2+2=4? Well, if that child grows up to be an engineer, I don’t think I’d want to be on a bridge that they designed, in case their math is wrong. Disastrous things can happen to us if we don’t learn those basic things, right?
Today is Sunday School Rally Day, or as I have termed it, Christian Education Rally Sunday, a day where we mark the resumption of our Sunday School and Confirmation programs, and that some of our adult Bible study activities are resuming as well such as the Thursday evening Men’s Bible study. Have you ever wondered why this is so important, that we set aside a Sunday in September every year, and that we give out Bibles to our pre school age and 3rd grade age children? Do we do this simply because “That’s what we’ve always done”? This morning, we’re going to learn from a young pastor the necessity of Christian education in the parish. We’re going to see what our responsibilities are in this endeavor, and it is my hope and prayer that once we are finished, you too will understand the necessity of sound teaching.
Our sermon text for today is from 2 Timothy. It’s one of three of the epistles that we have termed the “Pastoral Epistles”, because they were letters that were written specifically for young pastors, giving them some practical advice and warning as they go about their ministry. In fact, to remember this, the chapel at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, a place that is charged with the task of preparing pastors, is called the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. During his missionary journeys, St. Paul had established a Christian congregation in the city of Ephesus, and once he left, he placed a young man in the congregation named Timothy into the pastoral office of the congregation there. Paul wrote two letters to this young Pastor to help him in his ministry. Paul actually writes this letter to Pastor Timothy behind bars, in prison, believing that this is essentially his “farewell letter” to his young co worker in the Gospel.
In the text we have before us today, young Pastor Timothy is being encouraged to do the following: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (v.1-3)
Paul has several instructions for Pastor Timothy in his ongoing ministry, instructions that will also guide our Christian Education programs in this congregation. The first is this: preach the word, be ready in season and out of season. This falls right in line with Jesus’ “marching orders” for the church in the Great Commission in Matthew 28 when He tells the church on earth “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (28:19-20a) Here, Jesus says “teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you.” Not just “the parts that are popular.” Thus, Paul is encouraging Timothy and you and me, to continue to proclaim all of God’s Word. And here, Paul’s comment about proclaiming it “in season and out of season” means that there will be some times and places where what we preach will be extremely popular, and other times, not so much. Just look at Paul’s own ministry. Some places, he’d preach and there would be so many converts, a new congregation could be established in that place, like what happened in Ephesus. Other places, he’d preach, and they’d nearly stone him to death.