THe Pastoral Art of Using Words…

THoughts that drive me to the cross…

7 The LORD said to Moses, “Go back down at once, because your people, whom you led out of Egypt, have sinned and rejected me!  Ex 32:7.  GNT

But Moses pleaded with the LORD his God and said, “LORD, why should you be so angry with your people, whom you rescued from Egypt with great might and power? Ex 32:11.  GNT

The apocalyptic pastor is a poet. St. John was the first major poet of the Christian church. He used words in new ways, making (ποεατεας in Greek is maker) truth right before our eyes, fresh in our ears. The way a pastor uses the language is a critical element in the work. The Christian gospel is rooted in language: God spoke a creation into being; our Savior was the Word made flesh. The poet is the person who uses words not primarily to convey information but to make a relationship, shape beauty, form truth.

Reason cannot understand how there can be pleasure in crosses and peace in disquietude. Such peace is the work of God, and none can understand it until he has experienced it.

The conversation between God and Moses is interesting, it is the poiema – the work of art (from which we get the word poem from) that Peterson references. God will not only provide for His people’s sins, but will teach Moses and all pastors a lesson.

Moses has to realize – I didn’t lead these people from Egypt, I am not their God,  Yahweh is their God, He is the one who rescued them from Egypt, it has to be His work that will save them from their sin. That is what Moses will toss back to God, and I can imagine God smiling inside as Moses tells him – “they aren’t mine, they are Yours!”

“Don’t forget that Moses, and don’t let them forget it, either!”

This conversation teaches Moses a compassion he will need much later, for he will need to remember these people are God’s, and therefore God will have to transform them. He is not the only under-shepherd that is guided by God. Each of the prophets would similarly see the artistry of God, who would use their experiences as parables of grace. Nathan, Hosea, Jeremiah all see life as an experience to share.

That makes the difference———these poems of our lives, these words we use which help people understand the relationship we have with God.

We need to study, to meditate devotionally, to look at our work as God’s craftsmanship–His work–in and through our lives. As we do, perhaps he church will sense our passion for the message, and that they understand it. And then they will treasure church, and listen to sermons and the words of the liturgy and music that all focus on this message God wants us to know.


Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, vol. 17, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Dallas; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub., 1989), 53.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 442–443.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 20, 2022, in Devotions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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