Ask Pastor Dave: Why Did You Preach From the Pulpit on Maundy Thursday?

Ask Pastor Dave: Why Did You Preach From the Pulpit on Maundy Thursday?

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As part of our "Ask Pastor Dave" series, a parishioner wrote in to ask... Why do you preach from the pulpit on Maundy Thursday but not any other time?

Pastor’s response:

There are actually two occasions when I typically preach from the pulpit: Maundy Thursday (during Holy Week) and funerals.

For thirty years now, I have preferred to preach without a pulpit. In the church where I was the founding pastor, we never even built a pulpit. (We had a small lectern, which we used for reading the lessons.)

I understand my role as a preacher to be twofold: to assist the assembly in experiencing firsthand the Bible passages appointed for the day, and to make a witness as to how these texts have impacted my own life and faith.

I find that I am able to connect better with listeners when there isn’t a pulpit between us. This is also why I have recently moved to preaching without a printed text in front of me.

Yet there are times when our worship takes a more solemn tone. When we are honoring Christ’s passion during Holy Week, and when we are giving thanks for someone who has died (and offering words of comfort to that person’s loved ones), I prefer to take the focus off of me and my witness, and focus, instead, on the Bible passages and themes for those times of worship. Sometimes preaching from a pulpit can make that more likely to happen.

It is important to remember that preaching should always be grounded in the Biblical texts, and focused on what God is accomplishing through and among us. The preacher is not called upon to provide wise advice or entertain worshippers, but to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. When that happens, the sermon has accomplished its purpose.

- Pastor David Risendal

Have a question you’d like to ask? Send an email to drisendal@stplc.org.

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