I am finding that I am preaching fewer and fewer “holiday” sermons as the years wear on. I will preach a few Christmas-themed messages in December (it’s foundational to the gospel story of Good Friday and Easter). I preach on Good Friday and Easter on the appropriate themes (which are pretty common for me the rest of the year as well). The Sunday before Turkey Day is likely to be Thanksgiving themed. But that is about it for me now. Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. The rest of the year I tend to give a brief homage to the particular holiday and then move on to whatever expositional series I am in currently in.
There was a time in my ministry when I preached Mother’s Day and Father’s Day messages every year, often a Memorial Day or July 4th message, a Graduate Sunday message, a New Year’s day message, and of course, my Arbor Day messages are famous in my previous churches, as are my St. Patrick’s Day stem-winders. I just don’t do it anymore. There are a number of reasons for this.
1) I find preaching a series frustrating when there are so many interruptions. I take a Thanksgiving/Christmas break from my series and a short break around Easter, but try to keep the series going the rest of the year.
2) After nearly 35 years as a preacher, finding something fresh, non-cliche, biblical and spiritually effective gets hard.
3) I had a feeling that on holidays I was preaching to people’s expectations, more than I was delivering God’s word to the people. If God has led me to a series in the Farewell Discourse (where I am preaching now) why would I preach a holiday sermon just because people expect it?
4) Christmas and Easter, though grossly commercialized, are celebrations of biblical events. Thanksgiving is truly a biblical value, even if the holiday is not rooted in a biblical story. But the rest of the holidays are national or secular. I love my Mother but there is no biblical mandate to devote my sermon to telling women how wonderful they are or men (on Father’s Day) about how bad they’ve messed up.
I just find myself more and more drawn to just continue the series I am preaching. We will often take a moment in the service to recognize the holiday, but move on toward worshiping Christ and preaching the Word.
While I’m Offending….
A friend asked a question the other day (can’t remember if it was here or on Facebook). “When is the last time you heard a sermon on sexual abuse of women?” I can answer that. In the last 35 years, I have preached exactly ZERO sermons on the topic. “How many sermons on abortion have you preached, Dave?” Same number. Nada. How many sermons have I preached on homosexuality? Zip. Zilch.
I have addressed each of these topics forcefully as I preached the scriptures expositionally, but since I do not preach topical messages as a rule, I never do a sermon on Obamacare, taxes, sexuality or any of a million topics. Again, I have talked about abortion, just never preached a January “Abortion Week” sermon on it. I’ve discussed homosexuality, but never had a sermon entitled, “The Gay Agenda.”
I preach the Bible (as best I can) not topics. Perhaps that is why I prefer not to preach holiday topics. If you preach all the holiday topics, follow the “topic of the week” calendar of Southern Baptists and the Christian world in general, you will be left with about 4 weeks a year to preach on a topic of your choice. That just ain’t for me. I finished John 13 last week. This week, it’s John 14:1.
Anyway, have I annoyed and offended enough people? My work is done here. Time to move on.