The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
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Sermons and Meditations

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“What’s going on here?” — a favorite question of Sittler’s at the beginning of a sermon, referring to the text which had just been read. He believed it was the preacher’s job to probe the meaning of the text, to “fight it,” and then to relate it to the present-day situation, to the person in the pew.

He said, “There have been certain continuing obediences in my preaching: Listen to what the text says. Study it in the context of the total utterance. Take the text beyond the text.” Sittler agreed with Paul Ricoeur that the written text takes on a life of its own.

Sittler preached in many different settings — to congregations, in seminaries, in colleges and universities. He understood that the role of the preacher in an academic setting was different from that of a parish pastor. In his Introduction to Care of the Earth and Other University Sermons, he wrote, “The collegiate generation has its own specifiable character. Awareness of that character suggests how to make useful choices among many possibilities for content, and suggests also how to form content for attentive listening.

“Preaching in a college confronts the following facts: 1) A college is not a church; a college congregation is seldom a fellowship of believers. 2) Preaching in a college must be related to life in its most openly problematic aspects.

“After thirty years of preaching to students I am still trying to learn how to do it effectively.”

We are fortunate that many of Sittler’s sermons and meditations delivered in those various settings are available to us.

A sample of materials on Sermons and Meditations available from the Archives

  • Sermon on Romans VIII (Augustana Church, Chicago), Audiotape (7/13, 20, 27/75)

  • Maundy Thursday and Easter Sermons (Augustana Church, Chicago), Audiotape (3/27, 30/75)

  • See also The Care of the Earth, Fortress Press Facets Series, 2004, adapted from The Care of the Earth and Other University Sermons, published by Fortress Press, 1964.




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The Anguish of Preaching by Joseph Sittler

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