Pastors, when it comes to the seasons of the church, especially Christmas or Easter, are you ever tempted to phone it in? I know the struggle. The long hours that are put into sermon preparation sometimes become overwhelming and we just feel like we need a break. So when the times of year come where we “know what to say,” we call up an old Christmas sermon and believe it will suffice. Our congregation knows the story. Like an old familiar movie, they know the plotline, the good, the “boring,” the exciting and the climax.
Maybe, after what I have just stated, it’s now foolish of me to take you to a familiar passage. However, I need the reminder, so join me if you would. 2 Timothy 3:16 is the foundation of what I’m calling us to. If all Scripture is breathed out by God and it profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness, then we should be motivated all the more to mine out the gold that is within even these familiar story lines.
Don’t sell the Spirit of God short in what He has provided for us in the richness of His revealed Word, just because “we know the story.” If we can’t approach it with fresh eyes, then our flock will never see anything but the same old story, without the excitement of the hymn that begs to be told the old, old story!
Let me encourage us with three brief practices:
1. Look to the Old Testament.
The story of God’s grace does not begin in the New Testament, but is founded upon the bedrock of the promises within the Pentateuch and the rest of the Tanakh. Our understanding of Biblical Theology and the way God has worked and is working, shapes our view of these events.
2. Listen to those who have gone before.
We are provided with a wealth of resources in regard to our preparation. Not only do we have quick access to commentaries and articles, we have an entire history of churchmen, both living and dead from whom we can draw. How have they preached these seasonal church messages?
3. Start fresh with previously preached texts.
There are times when we are called upon to quickly prepare a sermon and there is in that time nothing wrong with grabbing something out of the files. But when we know that these times on the church calendar are coming and we are aware that there are only so many passages we can preach if we plan on having a long ministry in one place, let’s open our Bibles to those passages seeking not to rework and old sermon, but start anew with the living Word in those familiar places.
Let’s not do disservice like this to our congregation, to ourselves, and most importantly to the inspired Word of God. He is worthy of more glory and we and our flock are needful of fresh eyes in the matters that the church calendar brings annually.