By Warren W. Wiersbe
Of course you’ve been thinking about your autumn preaching plans! You’ve noted that September 1 is Labor Day Sunday, not the best day to start a new series; and October 27 is Reformation Sunday. Advent begins December 1, and Christmas is on a Wednesday. So is New Year’s Day! Happy planning!
The seven Sundays between Labor Day weekend and Reformation Sunday present a good opportunity for a series at a time when attendance and enthusiasm are usually high. If your summer preaching has avoided a book study because people were coming and going, then this is the time to give your church a practical exposition of an important book.
Which one? It all depends on the needs of the people. If they need to be stirred in their witnessing, turn to Acts 1-12. Do they need a closer relationship to the Saviour? Feed them from John 13-16. Is there a need for unity and service? Philippians might be just the right book.
As you read over and study the material, mark out seven “preaching passages” that excite and challenge you. It isn’t necessary to cover an entire book or section, although the shorter epistles usually present no problems. Focus on the material that you and your people need.
Reformation Sunday can mark the boundary between series. Perhaps the three Sundays prior to Advent Sunday you can do a thematic series based on Paul’s “Trinitarian Benediction” in II Cor. 13:14.
Consider some of our Lord’s own statements about His incarnation as found in John’s Gospel: “I am come,” “I came,” “I came down.” Or examine what the parables say about His coming to earth, and do a series on “Forgotten Christmas Stories.” This will take some serious study, so get started soon.
I did a series over the radio on “Mary’s Christmas,” and it was very well received. There are many persons in the Christmas story who are worthy of sermonic treatment: Joseph, King Herod, the shepherds, Zacharias and Elisabeth, the Magi, the parents of the murdered children. Just go easy on the poor innkeeper. We know nothing about him, and not many good sermons are built on fancy.
Many churches are now using the traditional “Advent candle,” with different families participating each Sunday. There is nothing sacerdotal about it; and, after all, Jesus did bring light into the darkness of this world. It seems strange that candles-dozens of them-are acceptable at Saturday evening weddings but not at Sunday morning worship services.
Start a new tradition by having your people decorate the church for the Advent season, and use lots of greenery. Plan the decorations carefully (this is no time for an artistic pot- luck), and encourage the whole family to come. Sing carols, have a bite to eat, and close the evening by dedicating it all to the Lord.
In other words, make Advent a joyous time, a family time, a time of worship and praise. Let the visitors know that your church family knows the meaning of Christmas and wants to share it with the whole world.
Yes, there are sincere people who think that any recognition of the Christmas season is unchristian and pagan. But we are not honoring a day; we are recognizing a miracle- the incarnation of the Son of God. I like what Spurgeon said about this: “Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for today” (“Joy Born at Bethlehem,” Luke 2:10-12).
In other words, if this is the way people are thinking, let’s take advantage of it and give them something to think about.
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.