I was just reading a list of rules for preaching by Rolf Jacobson of Luther Seminary. I was intrigued by number 3, which I share here. My own preaching tends to be in churches where the liturgical calendar is largely ignored, but I know that for many churches the opposite is true. Either way, here’s Rolf’s thought:
3. You shall not proclaim the season of the church year. What does this mean? Do not use the text as a point of departure for talking about Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Pentecost, All Saints, Mothers’ Day, Fishing Opener, or the Commemoration of St. NOBODY CARES! Easter and Christmas are okay to mention frequently, but do not trump the biblical text with the liturgical day. Let the rest of the liturgy be the place where the movements of the liturgical season shape the community of faith. I am not against the liturgical year. In fact I fully embrace it. But preach the text! If the preacher constantly refers to the liturgical season, the season becomes the de facto text for the sermon. That is not biblical preaching.
As well as the specific point about preaching the text rather than using it to get to the liturgical calendar, I like an implied point here. There are other elements in a service that can be used for certain things. The choice of songs, the introdauction to songs, prayers, other elements in the service. Let’s not think that anything that could or should be said on Sunday has to be said in the sermon. We can use the rest of the service for the rest of the agenda, but let’s keep the message time for the message of the text.