What should I preach this Christmas?
Pastors wrestle with this question every year.
Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter celebrate the main events of the Christian faith. These holidays spotlight historical facts that establish the foundation of Christian truth. It is often claimed that the major religions of the world essentially teach the same thing. That claim is categorically false. And you do not need to be a scholar in theology or an expert apologist to explain the uniqueness of the Christian message. You only need to have a biblical understanding of what happened on Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter!
Considering the glorious truths these events point, it is a joy to preach about the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet pastors often struggle to find texts or topics to preach during the holiday seasons. It is more of a struggle for the pastor who has serve the same local congregation for many years. You feel they have heard the major text and key narratives before. And you fear being a bad steward of the opportunity by repeating yourself.
If this is the situation you find yourself in, I would like to offer a novel idea. Preach the key passages and stories anyway. Don’t look for something new to say. Dig deep in the word of God to find fresh water from the old wells.
We assume our congregations know the biblical story and doctrinal meaning of Christmas. So we avoid major texts and look for something new or novel to say about the old, old story. But this is a bad assumption. We live in a culture where biblical illiteracy is growing rapidly. You may have grown up learning the stories of the Bible, participating in Christmas plays, and studying the relevant scriptural texts. But we live in a very different day. Many of those to whom we preach do not know the biblical story of Christmas and need to understanding the Incarnation of Christ.
Without a doubt, there are those in your congregation who know the story and understand the message of Christmas. Yet I still contend that you also should preach and teach it to them. The birth narratives of Christ may not be new to seasoned saints. But do not hesitate to show them that the old landmarks have not moved.
The Apostle Peter had a wise strategy for pastoral ministry…
“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it is right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:12-15)
Preach and teach the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ to your people. What should you do after you have carried out that assignment? Remind your people of the truth they have learned and have been established in.
Don’t look for something new to preach this Christmas. Preach the rich cast of characters around the manger. Preach the key stories about the birth of Jesus. Preach the major Old Testament prophesies fulfilled by Christ. Preach the meaning of the Incarnation from the epistles. Preach Jesus!