A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, November 30, 2012

On Preaching Advent During Advent

Once again, another Advent season is upon us. For those of us who have been preaching for more than a few years, it can be difficult, after a while, to find a fresh approach to our the traditional Advent texts. And while I am certainly not opposed to new and fresh insights on any given Scripture, I think it is important to say that the task in our preaching is not really to come up with something new and earth-shattering. Rather, our Advent preaching should prepare the way for the earth-shattering celebration of Christmas and Incarnation.

Too much Advent preaching is not really Advent preaching. It is as many describe it, Christmas-lite. But the focus of Advent is not on the birth of Jesus Christ, it is on preparing for his birth. And such preparation is not simply for the arrival of a sweet little child in the manger, but rather for the coming of the Lord of the Universe who will redeem all of creation. Too much preaching during Advent is not only Christmas-lite; it is also too sentimentally focused on babyhood. Advent is the time when eternity approaches earth, and we human beings, so bound to the temporality of time and space, must prepare ourselves to be touched by that eternity when it comes to us in the form of flesh.

I dare say that if we focused our preaching on Advent during Advent, we would find much that is fresh in our preaching. Advent texts would be allowed to speak in a powerful way-- texts that are ignored, or at least minimized, because we have to get to Christmas before December 25th. We must not treat Advent like children who cannot wait to open their gifts until Christmas Day.

So, for the next four Sundays let us sing, "Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free," and save "Joy to the world, the Lord has come" for the celebration of Christmas. And for those of us who are preaching, let us preach on expectation, and on waiting and listening. Let us preach words of hope as to what God is about to do in gracing us with his presence in Bethlehem. Let our proclamation be preparation for the coming redemption of creation.

1 comment:

Paul Tillman said...

I just caught your post today. I've linked you here: http://www.ingodsway.org/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-sermon-material/