I tend to pick a theme for a year and preach about it. Usually it's something that I've been reading about or something the Spirit lays on my heart (and yes, I do believe the Holy spirit does that). Picking a theme is not someething I take lightly, but after praying and reading and trying to assess the needs of the congregation, select the theme. Several years ago we had a committee select the theme. However, I asked if I could be the one who selected this since I was the one who had to preach about it. If I didn't have the passion for the theme, it would be hard to be passionate about the sermons. Thankfully, my shepherds gave the privilege and the task to select that theme.
Our theme last year was "The Amazing G(race). While preparing for it there would be little signs indicating I was going the right direction. Verses would pop out that I had never seen before. Lectures I attended spoke of grace. Speakers spoke eloquently about the riches of God's grace. Some would say I only saw those things because I was already attuned to notice such a topic. That's all right if you feel that way. I tend to see it differently. (You know....grace!)
Our theme for this year is "Jesus: (His)tory." Why did i choose that? Let me challenge you to read the epistles and note how many times Jesus' name is mentioned--directly and indirectly. Underline it in your Bible. Paul was notorious for talking of Jesus. The Hebrew writer says He (Jesus) is the author and perfecter of our faith. Paul said in Colossians that He was the firstborn of all creation. In the same passage, it says that in Him all things hold together. My assumption is, that outside of Him all things fall apart. In the gospels, John says that He was in the beginning and that, in fact, He is God. Once again the Hebrew writer tells us to "fix our eyes on Jesus."
I've asked others about good books concerning Jesus. I received such titles as:
Killing Jesus, Mansfield
Killing Jesus, O'Reilly
Jesus and the Victory of God, N.T. Wright
The Politics of Jesus, Yoder
Jesus: A Pilgramage, Martin
Jesus, Hero of Thy soul, McGuiggan
The King Jesus Gospel, McKnight
The Jesus Creed, McKnight
Jesus and the Gospels, Blomberg
Jesus, the Pastor, Frye
Following Jesus, N.T. Wright
Jesus Christ, Porter
Putting Jesus in His Place, Bowman and Komoszewski
I Knew Jesus Before He was a Christian, Shelley
Who is This Man?, Ortberg
Beautiful Outlaw, Eldredge
Jesus: A Theography, Sweet and Viola
Jesus on Trial, Limbaugh
Of course, there is nothing more humbling and uplifting as reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how He interacts with those who think they have all the answers and those who come to Him seeking answers to life. I feel so inadequate trying to tell His story. Yet, I know that's what we need. We need to know Jesus as Paul says in Philippians. We need that relationship with Him. To that end, I just had something framed for my office. It very simply says, "Sir, we want to see Jesus." This will be my calling, not only for this year, but for the rest of my life. I want to introduce everyone I see to Jesus.
Dr. Jim White