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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Message

The big Christian holidays—Christmas with the Advent run-up and Easter with the Holy Week run-up—can be the most satisfying times for me as a Christian but among the most difficult for me as a preacher.  What am I supposed to say?, I wonder.  Everyone—or nearly everyone here—knows this stuff already.  I vary my approach from year to year, but there is no way to avoid banging home the basics: God became man for our salvation (Advent/Christmas) and died and rose again for our salvation (Holy Week/Easter).  Those messages are on the one hand enormously practical (as will become terrifying clear on the Day of Judgment) but are on the other hand very difficult to tie to a right-here, right-now practical application with integrity other than "get saved" in some form or another.  (To anyone for whom this isn't difficult, please educate me.)

What makes things more challenging is that I try to mention the gospel somehow in every message that I preach, even if only in passing.  I think that this keeps us majoring on the majors, and it means that no unsaved person will walk into our church on a Sunday morning without a chance to be saved.  But it also means that the saints who listen to me every week hear it all the time.  Some people have told me they love that.  Others have told me to stop telling them what they already know.  A few have told me both.  So I realize that given what I hope is the pervasiveness of the gospel in my ordinary preaching, when I preach whole messages that concentrate on it almost exclusively (like during the entire month of December), it can seem like overkill.

And yet I don't really plan on changing my tack, because from time to time I find myself renewed by a great message like this one by Francis Frangipane.  Please read it and enjoy!

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