Faith is called forth by the sacramental Word. Faith is precisely a faith in the God who comes in the sacrament. Faith depends on, clings to, stands on, just this externality.~ Gerhard O. Forde, Theology is for Proclamation, 162.
Dear People of God,
Faith is something that comes from outside ourselves. It is not something we muster up. It is not something we make a decision about. We do not produce it. Especially it does not come from inside of us. It must be given to us. So faith is precisely God’s work. After all, if it were our own doing, that would be shaky ground. Like building a house on sand.
So, how does faith come about if we don’t make it for ourselves? It comes from hearing. God puts faith in us by speaking into our ears. And that’s not metaphorical. It is quite literal. Okay. For that to happen then we need someone to speak to us. Clearly we do not speak to ourselves in this situation. It must come from someone else. Okay. But who? Answer: A preacher. And yes, that primarily means the pastor. The preaching office of the pastor is not a human invention—it is given by God himself. After all a pastor ought not to be just some guy or gal spouting their own idea about God. No. The job of the pastor is not to speak about God. The pastor is to speak for God. And so, the pastor ought to know a thing or two about how God has chosen to speak in this world. A preacher can also be your mom though. She too is God’s representative on earth. Of course, your mom is to raise you up to be of service to this world in some way. But she also is to raise you in the faith—which means, that she too must speak for God.
Things like the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer all are words from God that she must teach you—so that you begin to trust in God above all things. A preacher is anyone who speaks God’s word to you. For when God chooses to speak through someone that person does not speak their own view of things—but precisely what he wants them to speak.
The word of God is always sacramental. That means: God-in-things. Namely—God in the mouth of a preacher…God in the water of baptism, God in the bun and cup of the Lord’s Supper. The sacramental word is where God wants to be known. Surely God is everywhere, but he is not everywhere as a sacrament. God is in a peach. God is in a rock. God is in the wind. God is in the dawn. But those are not sacraments, so God does not want to be found in them. We cannot find him in those other things, in fact. Nor can we find God in our own feelings. But in the preaching, in baptism, in the Supper—there God wills to be found—and rather, we do not find him—he finds us.
For in those things he comes to us from outside ourselves and speaks a particular word that cannot be found anywhere else: For the sake of Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins. There he gives you the unbreakable promise, which is the thing that creates faith and strengthens it. This is the power of the sacramental word. In that we can stake our lives on a thousand, thousand times.
Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church
Rock Springs, WY