"Until now, preachers on certain occasions simply had to wing it. No guidance existed. Zink-Sawyer and Giver-Johnston have provided expert advice for these situations. One could buy a book on preaching for weddings or a book on preaching for funerals. This book will replace ten other books on the market, if one could even find an individual book on all of these topics. This volume contains the experience and reflection of two lifetimes of ministry and teaching. If students or young pastors buy this book, it will be ready to fall apart by the time they retire."
For Every Matter under Heaven: Preaching on Special Occasions
"For everything there is a season," as the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, and that includes preaching. Beyond ordinary Sunday morning worship, many other "seasons"--special occasions--arise for preaching in the life of the church, whether by virtue of the secular calendar or celebrations or circumstances in the congregation or community. For Every Matter under Heaven: Preaching on Special Occasions offers preachers a process for creating sermons that are biblically grounded and relevant to the occasion.
Two obvious occasions of this sort are weddings and funerals; however, church anniversaries, dedications of new buildings or furnishings, commitment of pledges in stewardship season, and ordination and installation services also call for preaching on a special theme or topic. In addition, some congregations acknowledge secular holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day, in worship. Pastors are often called on to preach at events outside the church. And all congregations face local or national tragedies and crises that call for a word from the Lord.
These occasions require a different kind of sermon--or at least a different process of preparation. Most preachers have been taught that sermons begin with a biblical text, usually a text prescribed by a standard lectionary. Beverly Zink-Sawyer and Donna Giver-Johnston offer preachers a process for finding appropriate sermon texts for special occasions by considering the occasion itself, the listeners who might be gathered, and the ways God is at work in that time and place. Through this process, preachers can offer a word for every matter under heaven.