This week as Christians will gather for Christmas services, pastors are putting their finishing touches on their sermons. Preaching Christmas services can test a preacher’s confidence in the gospel.
1. Some people only come to church on Christmas and/or Easter.
And preachers can be frustrated that “they only hear essentially the same message.” I have heard pastors lament the reality and some have decided to preach completely different messages on those days.
2. Some people want the message to “be new or different.”
I remember welcoming people before an Easter church service when I pastored in Miami. We were presenting the events of Jesus during the Passion Week through a production and a couple wanted to know, in a frustrated tone, “if the production is going to be the same as last year?” As kindly as I could muster, I said, “Thankfully He is still going to die and rise again this year.”
3. It is challenging to preach the same message in a fresh or non-redundant way.
Not only can people reveal boredom “with the same message,” but preachers can fall prey to having a desire to say something unique or different.
An encouragement to those of us teaching this Christmas: Preach the glorious arrival of Jesus this Christmas – the good news of great joy for all people. John Stott reminded us that “the gospel is not preached if Christ is not preached.” Jesus and His work for us is the good news. Keep your confidence in the power of the good news this Christmas. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. You can rest in the power of the message that you get to declare. Our wonder for and our confidence in the Christmas message must be the beginning of our preparation for teaching this week.
The Christmas message is the message those who seldom come to church need to hear, and by God’s grace the message will penetrate their hearts. People don’t need to hear a message that gives them the impression that they can ascend their way to God. They need the good news that He descended here for us.
The Christmas message is the message the long-timer needs to hear. C.S. Lewis stated that “people need to be reminded more than instructed.” People don’t need instruction this Christmas as much as they need reminding. Many distractions pull at our hearts this season, and in all seasons, and we need to be reminded of the Glorious One who left glory for us. We can fight wandering from Him with wonder for Him.
The Christmas message does not need our help. Yes, we should work to tell the same story in compelling ways but not in a way that dilutes the message or distracts from the message. There is nothing more compelling than the message of Jesus. We can’t make the good news any better than it already is.