15 Short, Great Tips for Christmas Preaching

8. There are other New Testament passages that explain the Incarnation and Christ’s mission to the world. Perhaps it would be helpful to offer some explanation from other parts of the New Testament. What did the preachers of Acts say about why Christ was sent into the world? What about Paul’s explanation of the timing of it all in Galatians 4? There’s plenty on Christmas beyond Matthew and Luke.

9. Why not tap into the mine that is Old Testament prophecy? Where to start? Most people dip into the Old Testament at Christmas to read Isaiah 9:6-7 or Micah 5:2. Why not help people understand the richness of those texts and others like them in their context? What were the Jews waiting for when the first Christmas dawned?

10. Perhaps it is worth encountering a Christmas carol and its theology? Not my typical approach, but people know the carols. Perhaps it would be worth helping people to understand the richness of the second verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” biblically?

11. Ancient story is always relevant. It is easy to settle into an ancient storytelling mode and fail to make crystal clear connections to the messy world of today. Christmas is massively relevant because the Incarnation changes everything (that and the Resurrection…two massive moments in history!). Let’s think and pray long and hard about how the messages are going to engage the listeners with a sense of compelling relevance to today. Our world. Our culture. Our lives. Our struggles. Not that the focus is us but because the Incarnation is massively relevant always.

12. Ancient story was not a painting. One of the most effective ways to communicate contemporary relevance for listeners today is to take them beyond a Christmas card view of the first Christmas. What were the realities facing Mary and Joseph? What kind of a culture did they live in? How would that pregnancy shape their lives? Helping people to get beyond stained glass window views of the first Christmas can resonate deeply with the situations and struggles we face today.

13. Offer a contemporary relevance, not just the ancient one. The reason Jesus came into the world was to go to the cross, back then. It was a once and for all mission. But the Incarnation has burning relevance to our world today. Think and pray through how to convey the fact that Christmas matters now, and not just as a moment to look back on an ancient mission, albeit an important one.

14. Tap into the various emotions of Christmas. I suppose it is easy to slide into nostalgia at Christmas. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sleigh bells ringing, snow glistening, logs on the fire, gifts by the tree, etc., etc. But what about other related emotions? Missing family members through bereavement or separation. Seasonally affected discouragement disorders that make for a depressing time of year. Difficult childhood memories only exacerbated by the overt nostalgia nudges all around. Christmas is a good time to offer a sensitivity in your preaching that shows you aren’t part of the hyped up marketing machine.

15. Don’t miss the opportunity Christmas preaching offers. The reason Jesus came into the world was to go to the cross, once for all. It wouldn’t be good to make some sort of contemporary emphasis that loses sight of why Christmas really occurred. Remember that some people will only come to church at Christmas—don’t miss the opportunity to make sense of the season for them.

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Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014).