Pretend you’ve never done a Christmas sermon before. Pretend you don’t know where to start or how to proceed.
What to do first. Read Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 over and over until their message is as familiar to you as your name. Listen for the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to something. You will know by how you are intrigued by a verse or blessed by some insight or puzzled by another. When the Spirit wants you to focus on a text, He often pulls it out and plasters it across your eyes. Your mind keeps coming back to it.
Stay with Him now. This could be good.
Do not be in a rush. If you give the Holy Spirit a quarter hour to get through to you—before kickoff, or worse, during commercials—He will refuse to play that little game and will leave you to your own devices.
Wait on the Lord. Seek His will.
Keep one huge fact in mind. Your people are not wishing for something radically new in a Christmas sermon. They want the old, old story, although they will appreciate your telling it in a fresh way. They want to hear the ancient message told by one who is in love with Jesus, captured by God’s salvation and forever indebted to Calvary.
This is no time to be re-inventing the wheel or digging around in secondary stuff such as giving your people the current theories on the identity of the star of Bethlehem, addressing the various ideas as to when Jesus was actually born, or trying to make a tie-in with the latest Hollywood movie. They don’t need that. They want the story, the message of Salvation, and for once, what they want is what God wants, too.
If as a pastor you are bored with the reality of “the word becoming flesh,” something is radically wrong in your life, and getting up a sermon is the least of your worries.
Think back on all the Christmases you have known to see if there are stories, incidents, people, insights, etc. that would work in your sermon. The very best illustrations are always the ones you experienced personally, so do not fall into the trap of feeling you must use the same stories others are using. If something memorable happened at Christmas and it works in your sermon, you’ve been handed a nice little present of your own. Now, open it and share it with us.
Now, think. Reflect. Meditate. Ponder. (And lots of other words that mean the same thing: Give the text a lot of thought!) What is the scripture saying? What is the main point? What does this mean to your people? What does it NOT say? What do people wish it said that it does not?
Sit in the mall and as shoppers move around you, ask yourself how your text applies to them. Sit in the food court where the teenagers hang out and do the same thing there.
Visit your favorite preacher-authors and read their take on the Christmas story.
The Internet can be your best friend for this. Seeing how Max Lucado, David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, John Piper or Mark Driscoll treat the story can inspire something in you. Even if you don’t listen to the entire messages, get the first five to 10 minutes, enough to catch the theme and see where the sermon is going.