As you add the finishing touches to your Christmas sermon, I’d like to offer three tips that I’ve learned through the years.
1. Preach A One Point Sermon
As I have taught in both printed and video formats, I believe that the most effective sermon designs take the congregation on an adventure which leads to the unveiling of the pointed point – the bottom line or “one point” in a one point message.
I believe this is especially true for sermons in Christmas services.
Several years ago, our Christmas series was called Wait For It. The Christmas Eve sermon looked at all the obstacles the first couple of our faith endured and landed at this bottom line:
When you have whispers behind you and questions in front of you, you need eternity inside of you.
On another “Holy Night,” we explored God’s faithfulness in the midst of our fear and encouraged the people along these lines: His grip is stronger than your dread.
In 2020, we offered a simple yet urgent Gospel appeal with this:
He entered history FOR you so he could share eternity WITH you.
2. Think Clarity Over Complexity
I’ve seen it too many times: preachers try to get too clever with their Christmas sermons and they let their congregation down. Instead of unveiling the simple, yet overwhelmingly beautiful bit of inspiration and revelation that Spirit has given them to preach, preachers often try to get clever and end up adding too much complexity to their message.
Christmas Eve is not the occasion to impress with your exegetical prowess or your knowledge of the original biblical languages. Instead, recognize the power of your own vernacular to communicate Gospel truth in the language of the everyday and the everyone.
3. Stick With Tradition
Similar to point number two above, don’t try to get overly clever with the Christmas story. The story of God Incarnate — creator of the universe, with us — is elegant and miraculous. The beauty of it stands the test of time and can stand alone.
When people come to church at Christmas, they want…no, they NEED…to hear the Christmas story.
I remember sitting through a preaching seminar many years ago. The sermon that I gave which other participants could then evaluate came from the letter to the Ephesians. I’ll always remember the critique that came from other of the participants:
“Why didn’t you spend more time talking about the questions of Pauline authorship of Ephesians?”
First, he wrote it.
Second, even if he didn’t, do congregants’ need time spent on arguments that belong in the classrooms and hallways of seminaries and bible colleges? I think not.
Don’t seek to impress anyone with your theological innovation.
Instead, ask the Spirit to use you to provide eternal inspiration.
Hopefully, these three considerations will help you as you make your final preparations this week for your Christmas sermon. May we be a light in our preaching that points people to the reason for the season.