Sermon series—I like them and dislike them at the same time. This time of year, sermon series are popular in our Lutheran Churches because companies like Concordia Publishing House make worship products for Advent. Every year a new package comes out a church can buy which has everything a pastor needs to preach during Advent. Sermon series are usually topical, but based on either an Old or New Testament book of the Bible. Each sermon builds on the previous one until the series reaches some sort of climax or conclusion on Christmas. The series packages include children’s sermons, hymn recommendations, bulletins, devotional booklets and many other goodies. They make the pastor’s life much easier during a time when the workload is increased. They’re intended to spark interest in congregants to attend worship more frequently, and even lure the un-churched in to hear what God has to say. For these reasons I like them.
The main reason I dislike them is because very few people actually attend all the services in the series—usually four Sundays in a row, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Sermon series are designed to move you through successive texts in Scripture as you contemplate and treasure up the things you hear and learn until you reach the end. If you miss a couple Sundays, or one of the midweek services, or only attend one or two during the season, you miss out on the whole purpose of the series. I read a lot of literature on preaching which says every sermon in Advent should be a Christmas sermon because most people will attend church only once during the whole season. If that’s true, maybe I should just preach the same sermon throughout Advent and Christmas! That would certainly ease my workload. Seriously though, what’s a pastor to do?
Well, I’m going to do a sermon series. My seminary professor Reed Lessing has put together an Advent series based on 1 Thessalonians called, “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending.” Over the course of Advent we’ll hear about our “two minute drill” to be ready for Jesus’ arrival; we’ll learn to pray like Paul for the people we love who are caught in the midst of pain and loss; we’ll be assured by Paul that we have a “ticket to ride” to heaven when the time comes; we will faithfully watch and wait for our Lord’s birth; then on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we will rejoice at His arrival. Of course, I would not be doing the job you called me to do if I didn’t encourage you attend all the services in Advent and Christmas. And I also encourage you to attend our midweek programs as well. We’ll welcome the Yamhill Cantata again on Dec 3rd, the St. Paul Preschool program on the 10th, and the upper grade school program on the 17th. These worship services glorify God and are all for your spiritual benefit and edification.
Jill, Alex, Aaron and I wish you a joyful Advent and Christmas season. We look forward to worshipping and communing with you at the altar of God, who has blessed us greatly and promises us eternal life and salvation. May He give you peace and a heart to love Him above all things. In Jesus’ name,