I just realized that Advent is fast approaching and you may well be starting to think about Christmas preaching (or Advent reading with family). Can I make an overt promotion of Pleased to Dwell for this purpose?
1. As an Advent Read – With 24 short chapters, Pleased to Dwell, works really well as a pre-Christmas read for an individual or a family. Engaging and high energy, the sense of anticipation builds toward the Christmas narratives and their implications for us. I know some churches are using it as a church-wide pre-Christmas resource too.
2. For Advent Sermon Prep – There are at least four sermon series ideas developed in Pleased to Dwell. Obviously there are the two infancy narrative sections (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2) developed in some detail, but still easily accessible. Then there is the Old Testament section, perhaps offering a series on the coming Prophet, Priest and King. The book also have a New Testament section with chapters some of the key epistle references to the coming of Christ (typically this would be for a preacher who feels the need for something other than infancy narratives and prophecies for a Christmas series!)
To purchase Pleased to Dwell, there are links on here for purchasing in the UK, and here for purchasing in the USA/Canada. (If you wanted to get a volume discount here in the UK, please contact me via the comments and I will get in touch – I won’t post your comment.)
One of the great occupational hazards of ministry is that we can so easily lose the wonder of what we are dealing with. With the demands of the schedule, the expectations of people, the burden of creativity in a season that comes every twelfth month (but is only fully reported in two gospels), the ongoing reality of messy lives (people still get in trouble, marriages still fail, loneliness still bites, folks still sin), and so on, we can easily lose the wonder of Christmas.
In this post I don’t want to prescribe how to keep the wonder of it all, I just want to suggest we do. Whatever it takes. Perhaps time with family. Perhaps some extra guarded time alone with God. Perhaps a special treat carol concert. Perhaps a brief journey to a sentimental place. Perhaps read one of those booklets the church is offering to visitors over Christmas. Whatever it takes.
Let us make sure that we don’t go through Christmas feeling the pressure and the burden of it all, without also renewing the wonder in our hearts. Let us be captured by the grace of God that He would step into this world. Let us be gripped by the hope inherent in the Christmas story for a world of sinners – for Christ came into the world to save sinners! Let us be stirred afresh by the history-changing event of the incarnation. Ponder the first Christmas, ponder the reality of the incarnation, ponder the journey from Bethlehem to Calvary, ponder the everlasting nature of the incarnation. Ponder. Ignite the wonder again. Whatever it takes.