This ad will not display on your printed page.
Sometimes it is hard to preach.
For me, strangely enough, the hard times happen most often at the high festivals of the year: our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services, or our Good Friday and Easter services. I've often puzzled, Why is it that preaching in those wondrous settings is the most demanding of all?
Perhaps the first reason is the very immensity of the truths themselves: that God became flesh in Jesus of Bethlehem. Or that he suffered death and was raised again m the third day. How enormous the truth!
The second reason is that, as preachers, we're tempted to think we've got to be novel or personally impressive. That's a delusion. To me, that's like a butcher thinking he has to be creative and stylish with his knife strokes when, in fact, it's the bacon and roast beef and pork roast that people want. They want the nourishment, and the butcher doesn't have to do handsprings in addition.
As a preacher, I have to remind myself I'm preparing something for people who want to be fed. So, especially at the holidays, but any time preaching seems difficult to me, my rule is: Don't worry about novelty or bowling people over with my own fresh insight into the old truth. Simply say the truth in a straightforward manner with love for God and concern for the people. If I simply speak the gospel and let it connect to the lives of people, then the Spirit of God can sow the truth and bring it to harvest.
The hard times of preaching are necessary. They teach us to trust the God who is fully capable of speaking to his people. We can let the Word carry the weight rather than feeling we have to carry the burden ourselves.
I should add that there are times when it is hard to preach because I myself am tired, ill, heartbroken, or experiencing any of the other burdens that afflict our mortal frame as preachers. I believe congregations sense those things and appreciate all the more my faith in the gospel I preach in those times.
Sometimes I may be so moved by an incident that I'll be brought close to tears during a sermon. That's embarrassing-and makes it hard to speak-yet I believe it's okay to let people see we're so involved in the gospel and it means so much to us that it comes to the surface.
When hard times arrive, we can be that much more aware of the Good News-the gospel-of which we are recipients as well as proclaimers.
- F. Dean Lueking
Grace Lutheran Church
River Forest, Illinois
Leadership Spring 1987 p. 62
Copyright © 1987 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here for reprint information on Leadership Journal.