It's Bible Sunday tomorrow and I thought I should preach on the Bible...
Pretty simple, you might think, but thirty years of being in the Church (yes I was eight when I started) and twenty years of more formal study make it a huge subject and I am having real problems narrowing it down. What makes it more difficult is that the theme given by the Bible Society is 'a feast of God's word' which is essentially what I have been saying over the past few weeks as we have been studying the Bible at our teaching evenings. I know that most of the people who will be coming to my main service tomorrow haven't been at our evening sessions, but some have, and i wonder whether I am selling them short, as it were, by re-using material I've used before.
Some Clergy reuse sermons all the time, we have a three year cycle of readings, so three years down the road it is possible to pretty much preach the same thing - I know of one minister in a University who did exactly that, because most of the students were on three year degree course, and when he found himself in a parish where his congregation stayed pretty much the same over years he had to start again and write a whole load of sermons as people started recognising what he had said before!
I've tried to avoid that.
Sure, there have been times when I've reused stuff, but normally I have rewritten a sermon even if I know the congregation haven't heard it before, mainly because I think (as far as possible in a multi parish setting) things need to be aimed at the present congregation in their present context rather than rehashed for our convenience. So most Sundays I try and say something new, even if some of the stuff is recycled!
Sometimes its hard to think of something 'new' - although by new I mean restating old truths, and digging into the meaning of Bible passages, not necessarily saying something completely original but re-interpreting for present context. Though for Christmas and Easter, for instance, there is only so much one can say to what is often an unchurched congregation, or with a theme which is rather limited!
So I am pondering what to say in twelve or so hours for a group of people coming to Church with some expectation of a preach on the Bible. I'll let you know how I get on!