Every year, beginning in May and ending around mid-July, I find myself in what is for me a somewhat uncofortable position: it’s Mother’s and Father’s Day sermon time. Don’t be alarmed–I am not opposed to these holidays (though they have clearly been usurped as opportunities for commericalistic exploits). My dilemma is prepraring the sermon for these days. While I don’t feel obligated or constrained to preach on these themes, I resolve that the church will benefit from hearing what the Bible has to say about these uniquely important roles.
The trouble for me is I genuinely dislike preaching topical or thematic sermons most of the time. I have heard some preachers do it really well, but most of what I have heard has been abysmal. Plus, I believe that exegesis of a biblical text naturally lends itself to expository preaching; thus, I study texts and prepare homiletically in this way.
Thematic preaching is almost a given, at least for me, on certain special days usually recognized in evangelical churches. But it is hard for me to think “Father’s Day is here–what text should I preach?” I have preached from Ephesians 6:1-4 and Luke 15:11-32 (the prodigal son) the last two years and am praying about what to preach this year. I suppose I could address God as Father, but that subject is so vast in the biblical witness I would be hard pressed to survey and outline it in time for Sunday. This is another problem with thematic preaching–compiling texts in order to build a doctrinal or thematic base is a time-consuming labor and assumes a thorough exegesis of every passage used in that base. This is more the task of systemtic theology than preaching (though systematic theology certainly informs my preaching).
Anyway, that’s my struggle. May God lead me to the text he wants preached and give me the wisdom and discernment to divide it rightly.
Αυτω η δοξα,