Sacrifice the Good for the Better

Hello SNC friends and family:
I once took a class in seminary on preaching. My professor used to say: “Your sermon is only as good as the stuff you left on the chopping floor.” What he meant was – you can tell how good your sermon is by judging the stuff you left out of it. If the stuff you left out of the sermon is good – then the stuff you put in, must be even better! There are two premises in this thought.
You need to leave stuff out of your sermon. You cannot put everything in there. Some stuff must be left out…
You can’t only leave the garbage – for the sermon to be great – you will also likely need to leave some good stuff out too!

This is really hard for me! This may actually be one of my greatest challenge as a preacher. I want to include everything – even the stuff that isn’t that great. But sometimes you gotta just say no!

This may be one of the biggest issues we face with the holidays. For some reason – it’s just harder to say “no” at this time of year. No to buying gifts we can’t afford; “no” to taking an extra slice of chocolate Santa Claus cake; “No” to that party – “No” to the shopping malls. And yet it can often be our inability to say “No” that robs us of joy this Christmas season.

In our move to return our gaze to the baby; there is often going to be a decision that needs to be made; something we inevitably will have to say: “No” to, and it may not even be a bad thing. The hardest stuff to say “no” to tend to be good things; but sometimes we need to sacrifice good things in order to focus on the great.

So here are some questions:
What are some practical and simple ways for me to return my gaze to Jesus this holiday season; to really enjoy the Christmas story?
What things might I need to say “No” to; that might even be good things, but they rob me of the Great?

Please keep in mind – this isn’t about making you a slave at Christmas to some new way of living… If you don’t want to make changes; don’t. But if you are like me and somewhere along the way you’ve found it’s so easy to lose the joy of Christmas; maybe it’s time to reexamine your approach to the whole thing. Or maybe you are looking to change some things up. Sometimes change can be healthy, fun and refreshing. For me, I often find I need to say no to good things – in order to be able to pursue the great.

May the Lord bless you this week

Pastor Ryan