Lessons Learned

I've mentioned a number of times that while I've served here at Faith Church for over 25 years, it was not until 2003 that I became the Senior Pastor. I've learned a lot over the last three years, but there are still things that sneak up on me and surprise me a bit.

One of those happened yesterday. I conducted a funeral for an 89 year old lady in our church who passed away last week. Her death was not unexpected, due to illness, nor was the service particularly emotional. Attended by maybe 30-40 people at most, it was a simple 25 minute service followed by the burial (man was it cold standing in the cemetery!). But for some reason funerals take it out of me. I found it really hard to focus yesterday afternoon, and am a bit toasted this morning too.

The other lesson re-learned has to deal with Christmas sermons. Though I have taught adults extensively over the course of my time here, I was not in a situation to have to teach seasonal series. The first year of preaching Christmas was easy - I had never done a Christmas series. Last year was a bit more difficult. This year was harder yet. Make no mistake - there is a lot to say about Christmas, but I am finding that coming up with something fresh for three or four weeks straight is not always easy. I don't know how you guys who have been preaching for 10, 20 or 30 years or more do it, except that you must rework past sermons. I'd be interested in hearing what some of you more experienced preachers do.

At any rate, for my own edification, as well as to prompt my thinking, I've been reading a book entitled Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel. It is a collection of sermons by different pastors and teachers through church history, beginning with Jerome and ending with Calvin. Some of them are particularly rich, and each chapter is followed by the lyrics of a Christmas hymn. Highly recommended.

I'm going to share a few quotes with you during the next few days. In the meantime, today's slate includes putting the finishing touches on Sunday's message on the reason behind the incarnation. I leave you with this quote from Bede (673-735 AD): In a wonderful manner he began to be what we are, while continuing to be what he had been, assuming our nature in such a way that he himself would not lose what he had been.

By the way, Al Mohler is doing a series on Why We Preach. I liked this quote from yesterday's entry:

Preaching did not emerge from the church's experimentation with communication techniques. The church does not preach because preaching is thought to be a good idea or an effective technique. The sermon has not earned its place in Christian worship by proving its utility in comparison with other means of communication or aspects of worship. Rather, we preach because we have been commanded to preach.
Have a good day!


Milton Stanley said...

In Churches of Christ we typically don't preach Christmas sermons at all. I do preach about Christmas from time to time, but I don't really think we have to.

pete porter said...

Merry Christmas. In the word we have a record of the first preachers. In the gospel's, Jesus, then the twelve, then the seventy. With this command, "as you go, heal the sick, cast out devils, freely you recieved freely give." Then in the Acts again we see Peter and the 120. Again with healing, and delieverance. In other words, the preaching is to be accompanied with a demonstration of the Spirit's power. The one with-out the other is not bible preaching. They work together, are not the sermons from the Spirit? Then He will verify His word. Correct me if I'm wrong, but half a job is not going to accomplish any-thing but confusion. If you go to a presentation of, say a car; after the speech wouldn't you want to take it out and run it through it's paces? Of course, if they said, "No we won't let you test it", do you think they would sell any cars? Not to me. So with the gospel, we can't just tell about Christ, we have to be able to show them Christ by the power of the Spirit. You can preach to me a "mothers day" sermon on Christmas, just show me Jesus.
Be Blessed,

Peter Bogert said...

Milton - A new picture! Looks nice with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind you!

Bumble said...


I know the feeling because I often wondered about how could you keep the sacred seasons fresh and sacred years after years; especially if we want to be sensitive to the needs of CEOs (people who only come to church on Christmas, Easter and special Occasions).

Right now, my strategy for the next 12 years would be preaching from the Advent tracks of the lectionary (Three years cycle with 4 passages to choose from for every week of the season).

And then your practice of picking up a new book for the season will be helpful for me too. My preaching prof. Tod Bolsinger is reading from William Wilminton this year, and he's a senior pastor - not just an academic prof.

Peter Bogert said...

I did the Advent themes for two years, and there is great benefit from them, I think. I may do that again in 2006.

Thanks, Bumble!