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Looking Back in the Lutheran Spokesman

From December 1965 —

GO! – A favorite topic for debate in educational circles involves the age-old question: Which is more important in the training of teachers, instructing them in what to teach, or how to teach it? Both, of course, are recognized as important. Should the chief emphasis, however, lie on the subject matter to be taught or on the method of teaching it? State teacher training schools are increasingly stressing methods over subject matter.

The Bethlehem shepherds reminds us that it should not be so in the task of teaching others the Good News about Jesus. No teachers on earth have had as good a methods course as these shepherds received in one night. They had the rare privilege of seeing how an angel of the Lord preaches the Gospel. And this superb demonstration was given them against the setting of a mass angel choir making the vault of the heavens ring with the finest anthem this earth has ever heard.

Yet we find that the shepherds did not consider themselves properly prepared to make known the message entrusted to them until they had see the Child. Since their preaching was to be a witnessing, another “go” had to prepare them for the mission “Go!” And so we hear them say, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.” Then the point is specifically made that it was not until “they had seen it” that “they make known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”

Thus the pattern has been set for all Gospel heralds. The aged Simeon waited a life-time to make his great testimony, until he himself had held this Child in his arms and could say “mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” That gave him something to witness to others.

Preachers, were you hard put to find a fresh approach to the familiar Christmas story this year? Don’t throw away that book you bought on sermon methods used by great preachers. But do not let it rob you of the time needed to look with fresh eyes at the Child whose name was called Jesus, because He was to save the people from their sins. Do not let the search for better techniques interfere with your searching the stable and the manger for details about this wondrous birth that may not have caught your eye on previous visits.

Church School teachers, do get what help you can from Teaching Little Amalee Jane and similar How To books, but remember that you are not really ready to tell the little ones what this holy Infant means for them until you have well digested the personal significance of those blessed words: “Unto YOU is born a Savior.”

Canvassers, take heart! No one is asked to face the chilly reception the world gives the Gospel message without having first been well fortified by the warmth and love and strength to be found at the manger.

Our King bids no one go into all the world to preach the Gospel who has not first received the gracious invitation “Come unto Me.” There is the heart and core of our training. First we eat at the feast our King has prepared for us. Then, filled and strengthened, we are ready to tell others how good it tastes and invite them to the banquet hall.

Can you imagine the shepherds telling one after another that the Messiah had come before they themselves had seen that holy Child who fulfilled all the ancient prophecies?

On the other hand, can you imagine those same shepherds saying nothing to others after they had seen HIM?

— Norbert Reim