By Chip Lamca
Faculty, College of Theology
I promised myself that I would not be that grumpy old guy who complains about things even though nobody else cares. That I would not be the pastoral equivalent to Mr. Wilson to all of those young menacing theological Dennis’s out there.
Here I am though, having suffered yet another pumpkin spiced season that started in August and thankfully died out in mid-November as a great pumpkin spice shortage engulfed our great land. Since I may not be doing very well avoiding my curmudgeonly tendencies, let me go ahead and speak to the issue that is on my heart and perhaps secretly on the heart of pastors everywhere:
I do not want to preach about Christmas this year.
Let me start by saying that I do not hate Christmas – you will not find me sneaking in to Whoville and stealing the roast beast. I love Christmas. I love the celebration of the coming of the Christ. I love reading the Hebrew Bible and seeing that God was promising in clear ways and in obscure ways that he would send his anointed one for our salvation. I even love Santa Claus – I happen to be a lipid-blessed man with unpigmented facial hair and I love discussing the fact that Santa Claus is based upon the real life Pastor Nicolas of Myra.
It is just that some December I would like to preach a series on giving – and not say anything about commercialism or about being a disciple, and not draw upon the story of the Magi who followed yonder star like we should follow Jesus. What I would not give to preach a short series from Leviticus in December! No, I would not not preach about the first coming of Christ, but I would like to preach it in the late spring – maybe from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.
Despite my inclination to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing, I am reminded of Paul’s charge to young pastor Timothy. He said, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
There really are seasons when the hearts of people are tuned to listen to a particular message and Christmas is one of those. Pastors, people will come to church in December who are never there any other time. That is not being judgmental, but observant. They will come because someone is faithfully praying, nudging or more. They will come because their child or niece is an angel in a program. They will come because it seems like the right thing to do.
Pastor, bring your “A game.” Pray for understanding and wisdom as you approach God’s Word. Read those scriptures once again and find the power behind the narrative. Craft a sermon that communicates so well that if a person hears only one message this year, it will leave a powerful stamp on their heart and mind.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.