In the early days of our new life in Christ my wife and I attended a church where most of the preaching was done by a band of ‘local preachers’. These men and women served the several churches of that denomination in the area. One Sunday, a fairly elderly preacher arrived and announced that he would be preaching from Ecclesiastes 1:9. I confess that I don’t remember much of what he said, but I am pretty sure that it lived up to its title, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’. But I do remember the sermon he preached just three months later.
On that occasion he mounted the steps of the pulpit, opened the Bible, and in a ponderous tone announced that the title of his sermon was, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ He then proceeded to preach the exact message he had delivered a few months before. He certainly made his point very effectively, although I am sure that this was not his intention.
Preachers who preach at many different churches often polish up a small selection of messages, which they use repeatedly. This may result in a finely constructed sermon and a very professional presentation, but misses an essential element – immediate relevance. In my view preaching is ‘prophetic’ in that it is a way God speaks to His people. This implies that a sermon should be to a specific people in a particular place and at a specific time. In other words, preaching should be ‘new’.
I joined that team of local preachers a few months later and resolved, right at the outset, that I would seldom, if ever, repeat the exact same message, even in different venues. I also decided to keep a record of every sermon preached with a note of the date, place and text. I concede that the texts we preach and the truths they contain are ageless but the way we unpack and apply them should not fit the ‘nothing new under the sun’ rubric. When it comes to proclaiming Jesus Christ then surely we can say that ‘Everything is new under the Son!’