I’ve found it useful to do a fun event in winter to perk people up, so when my new worship leader suggested we do a Mid Winter Christmas service I was immediately on board. I’d been to mid winter Christmas dinners before but hadn’t heard of a mid winter Christmas service. Beyond its practical benefits, I soon realized this opportunity for what it was: Most people are on holiday on Christmas day so even the best Christmas sermon is heard by few. But here, in the middle of the year we would all be together.
Then I remembered how often I feel stumped at Christmas time. What do you preach? Easter is so much easier: salvation, eternal life, the resurrection stories, and the drama that plays out from Good Friday covers so many human emotions and needs. There’s endless material and various possible directions.
At Christmas time the clichés threaten constantly: ‘The world thinks Christmas is about presents but today I’m going to tell you that it’s really about Jesus.’ Of course this is true, but, well … I think our people know this already! At least cognitively. We can find that each year we’re just trying to find a new way of saying the same thing. And what can we show them of Jesus at Christmas time? Jesus hasn’t done anything yet; he’s just a cutesy newborn baby. What is our end point? Are we trying to get people all clucky and gaga over the idea of this cute newborn baby so they’ll forget the distractions of presents? There’s got to be more to it than that.
Well, I’m painting this issue in broad strokes. Of course there are many good angles to come from when preaching at Christmas. It’s just that they can take a fair bit of thought, reflection and prayer – things we don’t often have loads of time for in the crazy busyness of the Christmas season.
I’ll post some of my responses to this dilemma below, but before I do that I’d love to hear from as many as possible of you. What do you preach at Christmas time? Which illustrations have worked well? What application do you bring? Which theological or contextual aspects seem most pivotal? What’s your angle?
If we get lots of posts on this it might help us all arrive into Advent with ideas to burn! Go on … tell us what you’re thinking!