A holiday is an opportune time to open-air preach. The celebrations are usually accompanied with outdoor festivities. Halloween has trick or treaters going from door to door. Veterans Day has a parade. Thanksgiving has Black Friday with long lines outside of stores. These activities get souls out into the public marketplace. As an open-air preacher, God has given you an occasion to preach to them.
As Jesus used the well water to transition to a conversation about eternal life in John 4, we can use a holiday to share the Gospel. In this blog post, I am going to list Scripture references which would fit with each appropriate holiday.
1. Halloween/Reformation Day
Since I do not participate in Halloween celebrations, I prefer to use it as an educational opportunity on the reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany. Historians commemorate it as the beginning of the reformation which created Protestantism. Luther came to defend the doctrine known as justification by faith alone. Galatians 2:15-16 is an excellent text to highlight this point.
“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (ESV)
2. Veterans Day
Many communities have a parade on November 11th to honor American veterans. This day originally was called Armistice Day. At 11:00 am on 11/11/1918, World War I ended. In 1954, the government set aside the day to honor veterans from all wars. Since the day is a federal holiday, the public schools are usually closed which can boost parade attendance. Since the parade honors service, this theme can be used while preaching. One of the best verses which communicates this theme is Mark 10:45. Jesus is the ultimate servant.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV)
Luke 7:1-10 gives an example of a soldier who has faith in Christ. The centurion comes to Jesus in order to have Him heal his servant. Starting in verse eight, the centurion expresses his faith in Jesus’ ability to heal.
“For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” (ESV)
3. Thanksgiving Day
The historical roots of Thanksgiving are religious. In America, the Pilgrims set aside a day to thank God for His provision. Americans did not start celebrating the holiday on the same day until Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863. Before this time, the states celebrated on different days.
Since this is a day to thank God, open-air preachers can use this fact to ask penetrating questions. “Have you thanked God today? Or do you complain against Him? Do you use God’s goodness to repent of your sins? Or are you continuing to rebel? Are you using your mouth to praise God or to curse Him?” Here are two texts in which you can preach.
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4)
4. Christmas Day
Since the Scriptures are all about Christ, there are a multitude of Old Testament prophecies and New Testament texts which we can preach about our Savior’s birth. Let me focus on two. First, Isaiah 9:6-7 teaches us the attributes of the Messiah. He is God and King.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (ESV)
Second, the birth narrative from Luke 2:8-20 explains why Jesus’ birth is important. Verse 11 says, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Christ came to save people from their sin by dying on the cross in their place. Every person who repents and believes in Jesus will be forgiven.
Pastor Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History, from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity, and a PhD in Historical Theology in 2021 from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He is also an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. He is married to Karise with whom they raise Ian, Elizabeth, and Patrick. He is interested in history, especially Charles Spurgeon, and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.