What We're Preaching: Exodus
In this series, "What We're Preaching", we want to get a glimpse into what some of our ANiC churches are preaching and learning about.
This time we connected with Rev. Rob Stringer at Grace Anglican Church in Calgary about their upcoming series starting in September on the book of Exodus.
What sparked the idea and vision for this series?
Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion within in the Church on the topic of spiritual renewal or revival. I believe the book of Exodus has something to contribute in helping us grasp and shape our desire for gospel renewal. At the beginning of the book we find the people of God “groaning because of their slavery” in Egypt and “crying out to God for help” (2:23). At the end of the Book we find “the glory of the Lord” in the midst of his people “throughout all their journeys” (40:38). It is a great story of liberation as God’s people move from harsh service under the king of Egypt to holy service under the King of Heaven. It is a story of redemption and renewal.
I see three vital themes in the book of Exodus that must shape our hope for spiritual renewal. First, renewal is the work of God. God alone has the power to rescue those enslaved by sin and death. The narrative of the Exodus from Egypt highlights this theme. If there is to be a renewal in the Church today it must be a work of God.
Second, renewal comes by the Word of God. God speaks to reveal himself and reform his people according to his designs for humanity. In the middle of the book, God speaks from Mt. Sinai to reveal his gracious reign and rule over his redeemed people, most notably, in the 10 Commandments. If there is to be renewal in the Church today it must be a response of God’s people to the Word of God. A Word that brings us under the conviction of sin into a deeper repentance, and the assurance of the forgiveness of sin into a deeper experience of God’s grace.
"If there is to be renewal in the Church today it must be a response of God’s people to the Word of God."
Third, renewal results in the worship of God. The final chapters of the book focus on the design and construction of the Tabernacle as a dwelling place of God in the midst of his people as their glory and joy. We also read of the tragic failure of the people to rightly worship the Lord as they turned to idolatry. In this, the Church is reminded of it’s calling to worship the Lord in beauty of holiness, and that renewal is not really about anything new at all but rather it is a restoration to the fellowship with the Lord and his people that we were always intended to enjoy.
"the story of the Exodus is really a story about Jesus Christ"
The longing for Spiritual renewal is really a longing for God himself. Therefore, the story of the Exodus is really a story about Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, who accomplished the work of God to rescue us from sin and death as the true Passover Lamb, for the glory and worship of God. As the main preacher at Grace I desire that the congregation would see Jesus Christ and his glory in a way that brings true transformation and renewal within our midst.
How did you begin planning it? Where did you start?
Read the text again and again. Devotionally at first. Then in a more detailed way, looking for repeated themes, large narrative structure, and smaller segments that could be covered in one sermon. In preparing for this sermon series I found, “How to Read Exodus” by Temper Longman III (2009, IVP) was a helpful introduction into the narrative and theological structure of Exodus.
A starting (and end point) for me in the study and exposition of Scripture is always to behold Jesus Christ, who is the focus and fulfillment of the whole of the Bible
What was one of your biggest challenges in formulating it?
I believe preaching the book of Exodus presents two unique challenges.
First, it is a big book. Exodus is a mix of genres: historical narrative, genealogy, poetry, legal code, architectural design. The size and variation of the book’s style presents the preacher with the challenge of balancing the bigger picture of the book with the smaller details. For example, when the preacher comes to the first the ten plagues, he or she must decide between a macro versus micro approach. So too, the Ten Commandments and the building of the Tabernacle, which also has historical narrative sandwiched between its design and construction. Determining the approach to the text and the pace at which the material should be covered is not always easy to discern. Furthermore, within the Anglican Tradition the preacher must plot out the sermon series with an eye to the liturgical calendar (Advent, Christmas, Lent etc.) which may create further thematic and pacing challenges.
"The challenge for the preacher is to first see and understand the gospel"
Second, it is an important book. It is key to understanding the whole Bible. It lays out the essential framework for God’s deliverance, God’s Covenant, and right worship of God. These foundations present the fundamental themes and images for understanding the story of Israel and of Jesus. The challenge for the preacher is to first see and understand the gospel—getting it right (eg. Grace before Law)—and then presenting it clearly from the text in a way that can be understood and applied to the listener’s daily life.
What impact do you hope to see in your church?
It is my hope that God’s Word Written would be declared in these sermons in such a way that the Person, power, presence of God would be grasped by our church—that people would find help and hope in the gospel—that will result in personal and corporate spiritual renewal, and God-willing, to our City through our bold witness to Christ, who is God’s Word made flesh.
How can we pray for you?
In seeking Spiritual renewal, I have encouraged my congregation to pray this prayer. It combines two petitions from the Great Litany from the Book of Common Prayer. If you would pray this with us, that would be great.
We ask you, good Lord, to give all your people increase of grace to hear your Word with humility, to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit; That it may please you to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sin and to endue us with the grace of your Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to your holy Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.