I have had conversations with a few pastors in the recent weeks who basically admitted that since worship attendance on Christmas Day and New Year's Day will likely be sparse, they are simply going to recycle old sermons and preach them.
Seriously? Do they have so little regard for their calling that they are going to use reduced numbers for worship as an excuse to be lazy? Do they have so little regard for the faithful who will show up on Christmas Day and New Year's Sunday that they have decided that these folks are not worthy to hear a fresh word from the Lord, but must listen instead to a stale sermon?
I confess that I am like most pastors who like big crowds in church; and sometimes, if I am not careful, I can place too much emphasis on the numbers in drawing conclusions as to the workings of God. I do indeed believe that numbers tell us something, but of course, numbers are relative to the context, and the measurements of a vital church congregation involve more than numbers. But I find it quite disturbing that some of my colleagues in pastoral ministry have decided to give up on worship on Christmas Day and New Year's Day because a high percentage of the members and constituents will likely stay home. I am not sure which is worse: just canceling worship on Christmas Day or treating the day's worship as a waste of time because the "audience" is not large enough?
I will be doing my usual sermon preparation for Christmas Day and New Year's Sunday. Indeed, I just might work a little harder because the folks who will be there on those two days will indeed attend because they really want to be there. Perhaps, I will work a little harder for them. (How to reuse previous sermon material is another post for another time.)
Jesus told his first disciples that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there in their midst (Matthew 18:20). While some pastors seem to think it is a waste of their time to prepare a sermon for "the two or three" gathered on Christmas Sunday, Jesus apparently is prepared to "waste" his Christmas Day with the "two or three." I hope he is ready to hear a stale sermon.