When I was working on an STM with Robert W. Jenson at the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg (late 80s–early 90s), I would sit in the library stacks and peruse through the back issues of the journal dialog for articles written by him. That’s how I came across this interesting article: “The Preacher, the Text, and Certain Dogmas.” I was immediately intrigued and have read it many times over the years, as evidenced by its poor condition. (If anybody can send me a fresh copy of this article, I’d much appreciate it.) In this article Jens describes his process (or at least one of his processes) in creating a sermon. Every preacher, I think, can learn a great deal from it. Laypersons can also learn a great deal. Given the state of preaching today, one might just as well create their own sermon for each Sunday.
Jenson advances the following bold and controverisal claim: “All biblical texts are in their literal sense about Jesus.” Ponder on that for a while. When your pondering is done, think upon how you would preach Isaiah 35:4-7 (which is the Old Testament lesson appointed in the Roman Catholic lectionary for this coming Sunday):
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
So how does this text literally speak about Jesus? What is the theme of your sermon?