Christmas Preaching: What Do You Do?

by Dave Miller on December 2, 2012 · 26 comments

I’m in my Sunday School hour break – recuperating from the 8:30 service and readying for 11:00. I am between series right now (finished Proverbs and didn’t want to start something new until after the holidays).  So, I preached a Christmas-themed sermon today. That means I will probably preach 4 Christmas sermons during this year – it’s not easy to keep that many sermons fresh and free of sappy sentimentality.

I have often said that the reason pastors move from church to church is that they run out of fresh ideas for Christmas. I was at my last church 14 Christmases, and this is my 8th Christmas in Sioux City.  Not easy to find a new slant and people don’t always like to hear recycled sermons.

Anyway, I’m wondering how the Voices community handles Christmas preaching. Do you:

  • Ignore the season and continue your series?
  • Only preach a Christmas sermon the last Sunday before the 25th?
  • Preach Christmas themed messages throughout the month of December?
  • Perhaps follow an Advent theme?

What do you do at Christmas time?

At times in the past, I have:

  • Continued my series and tie the messages to Christmas in some way (worked well when I was in Romans, not so well in other series.)
  • Preach a theme during the entire season (one year it was the key figures of Christmas, another it was “The Gifts of Christmas” – blessings that are ours because of what Christ did, etc)
  • Sometimes I just mix and match Christmas themes.
  • I’ve always preached at least two Christmas-themed sermons each year (plus Christmas Eve) but sometimes (like this year) I go the whole month of December.

I’m not only interested in what you do, but why you do it. Tell us what you do at Christmas and the preaching philosophy and thought-process that goes into it.

1 theoldadam December 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Our pastor usually preaches Advent sermons (on the need for Christ, the waiting for Christ, etc.) until Christmas, and then he preaches Christmas sermons for the couple of weeks (12 days) of Christmas.

And, of course, all sorts of cross based themes can be weaved in to those themes.

2 David Tuten December 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I typically do a themed Advent series for mornings. Going with a theme helps with the variety issue. Evenings are more of a challenge, but I generally stay relatively seasonal.

3 Jess Alford December 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Dave Millwe,

I would like to share a Christmas sermon with you. Isaiah 55:1-3.
How can a merchant peddling his goods say come buy without
money without price. In the east a custom comes into play, when one
celebrates their birthday is is such a joyious occasion they go to the merchant and pay him a sum of money to give goods away until the money is spent. The one celebrating their birthday does this for another year God has granted them being on earth, and all the blessings God has bestowed on him.

Jesus celebrates his birthday by giving the greatest gift of all.

Dave you can figure out the rest…

4 Christiane December 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm
5 Christiane December 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Why “Advent” as a choice?
Advent stirs up the earth of our hearts as the words of Isaiah are heard once more in our churches.
Advent, as a spiritual journey, brings us ‘in faith’ once more to Bethlehem.
Like the wise men of old, no one who bends the knee before the Lord of Life ever retraces the old road again.

The ‘preparation theme’ of Advent points us not only to the Coming of the King, but also towards the Return of the King.

6 Doug Hibbard December 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Wow. I thought that had been long since forgotten…thanks for the mention :)

7 Christiane December 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

not ‘long forgotten’, DOUG
not forgotten at all :)

8 Eric Moffett December 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

We celebrate the Advent season and have found it to be wonderful for our worship. It gives us four weeks to explore the incarnation, the story of redemption, the second coming of Jesus and countless other things. We light the candles each week and talk about the significance of each week and are reminded of the expectation that comes with this season. Since we celebrate the incarnation during this season it gives us a unique opportunity to talk about the BIG PICTURE.

Celebrating Advent helps to ‘divorce’ the season from commercialism. Each week, as we light the candles and participate in the season we are forced to remember what we are celebrating.

Here are some Advent series I’ve done –

* Four Sundays of the ‘Story of Redemption’ – Explore creation, fall, restoration and coming consummation.

* Four Sundays through Isaiah – explore the great prophesies of Christ in Isaiah

* Hope, Peace, Joy, Life – Each Sunday explore a different aspect of the joy of the incarnation

* Explore the second coming of Christ – Advent is all about COMING – talk about the first one and point towards the second one

For Sunday evenings – it should be special. We usually do the first one as our Lottie Moon Emphasis. Fellowships, Cantatas, Musicals, Lessons and Carols services, etc.

9 Lee Cooper December 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I don;t follow any set pattern per se year after year. Sometimes I run with a 2 or 4 part Christmas themed series. This year I’me sticking with a Life of Jesus series which presently has me doing the Sermon on the Mount at this time.

The only thing I usually try to do is the Sunday before Christmas I will do a “monologue” including dressing up in character. The basic premise is to give a one-person type perspective on the Christmas story, but only stick with what “they”would have witnessed and nothing else. I’ve done a Shepherd, Simon, and this year (thanks to Joe McKeever latest blog) I am going to portray Joseph writing a letter home about his experience.

10 Bob Cleveland December 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I’m not a preacher so I can fearlessly express stupid ideas without fear of repercussions.

First, were I a preacher, I’d preach on Christmas the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Set the tone for the Christmas season, tell the folks what we’re celebrating, what we should be keeping in mind, how it’s our job to “Keep Christ in Christmas”, not Wal-Mart’s, how to respond to folks who say “Season’s greetings” or “Happy holidays”, and then continue on with the normal progression of whatever series I happened to be in. It’s not like the church regulars haven’t heard the Christmas sermons plenty of times before, and if the gospel isn’t communicated in my regular sermons, I ought not to be preaching anyway.

This is probably my 50th or 51st Christmas season as a believer in church services, and I’ve heard about every kind of presentation there is, I guess. Until this morning, when my pastor preached on “Christmas in the Garden of Eden”. It was actually most refreshing.

11 Doug Hibbard December 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm

This year, we’re doing Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love.

Except the pastor meant to talk about faith this morning and preached on hope instead. Which is why I don’t like to prepare messages in clumps like that.

Anyway–2 Samuel 7 on Hope, Daniel 2 on Faith, not totally sure on the rest.

12 Greg Harvey December 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I’m not a fan of the Advent term. It really never had a place in Texas SB churches and felt “high church” to me. I feel drawn towards the Commission magazine style pictures and emphases that unite those images with the Christmas story–shepherds, local “kings”, mothers and fathers with babies–both theirs and adoptees–and most of all people in prayer.

I’ve shared in the past that my dad’s birthday occurs during the IMB/Lottie Moon week of prayer and knowing that was a great comfort during an often trying time period–things often went spectacularly bad around that time–and made for rather fond memories of God’s zeal or those on the field and for the dear saints praying to see God’s work accomplished.

But mostly, I love to hear the “old, old story”. Faithfully told again and watching children see, hear and recognize the same familiar account. Especially enjoy hearing children who can quote the Luke account from memory.

I

13 Christiane December 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

” . . . hearing children who can quote the Luke account from memory”

This, I love:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn10FF-FQfs

14 Ryan Abernathy December 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm

We do Advent every other year. It’s being done this year and kicked off today with Hope. Next week is Announcement followed by Joy then Arrival. We have a video testimony each week emphasizing the week’s theme and then have that person light the candle. I love doing Advent because I like teaching our young church about the rich traditions of the faith- especially those that are old like Advent.

On non-Advent years we typically do a series themed around 4 characters in the Christmas story. We do different ones but typically Mary makes it in. :)

I enjoy the Christmas season immensely and look forward to it as much as Easter season. Both are great for reaching the curious and the uncommitted. They also spur a lot of creativity because people “know what to expect” so there is a real commitment to make things fresh and new every year.

15 Dave Miller December 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

I didn’t grow up in a church that did Advent, so when I moved to this church, and they did an Advent themed activity each week, it didn’t really have a lot of meaning to me. Eventually, I dropped it and really no one complained. Not sure I every gave it a real try.

16 Jim Pemberton December 3, 2012 at 1:18 am

There’s plenty of advent and incarnation messages as well as thematic filters for passages, how could anyone run out? In fact, if you pick a single thematic filter each year (pointing to the cross, evangelism as the coming of Christ in this age, the coming of Christ as the fulfillment of prophecy, the sovereignty of God in the incarnation, etc) the overarching message will tend to stick better in the minds of your congregation: “Oh, yeah, remember a few years ago when the bid idea was _______? Pastor Joe challenged us to ______.”

17 Chris Roberts December 3, 2012 at 1:32 am

It just depends where I am in my preaching. This year I’ve just recently started a Hebrews series so I’ll stay on it, more or less. We have our Christmas cantata 2 Sundays before Christmas; Sunday before Christmas I’ll do a Christmas theme, and a Christmas-eve-eve service that night. Otherwise I’m following my normal routine.

18 Clark Dunlap December 3, 2012 at 2:31 am

I suspended my Romans series at the end of Ch 8 a month ago and started last week my Christmas Series. Last week, pre-incarnate Christ. This Sunday the coming of Christ from Ph 2:6-8 Next week the work of Christ, then the post ascension ministry of Christ then the Return of Chirst. I promised my Folks Jesus every Sunday in December. Of course its pretty much Jesus every Sunday anyway. ;-)

19 Bruce H. December 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

Dave,

There are a lot of hurting people out there this year. If the church does not gravitate to searching out those around us who are jobless, depressed, hungry, in prison, no clothes, orphans or in the hospital, then sermons could become our entertainment. The birth is over and the work needs to be done. Our celebration will be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Encourage the people to ease the stress of others till then.

20 Jess Alford December 3, 2012 at 8:18 am

Dave,

Preach Christmas themed messages the year round, they will take the hint and get you a nice gift.

21 theoldadam December 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm

My pastor says that the culture’s going from Thanksgiving one day, to Christmas the next day, is “a desperate move”. And that it is a sign of the hopelessness that is underlying our society.

It’s a pretty hard hitting Advent sermon (and only 18 min. long, if anyone might wish to hear it):

http://theoldadam.com/2012/12/03/what-would-you-tell-someone-about-your-church/

Thanks.

22 Dale Pugh December 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

In November I started a missions emphasis to correspond to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. That way we get a head start on it. We don’t have a WMU or anyone who really takes that on as a project, so I promote it from the pulpit.
Yesterday I started with Christmas messages. 1 John 4:14–”The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
I’ll continue with that theme for the next three Sundays. It will culminate with a service on the 23rd during our evening service. Then we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper to end the year on the 30th.
Of course all of this depends on whether we make it past the end of the Mayan calendar………

23 Nate December 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

This year for Advent we are preaching the great Christological Passages of the New Testament. Yesterday was Philippians 2:5-11. Others we have on tap (Col. 1, Heb. 1, John 1, Rev. 1)

24 Jess Alford December 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Dave Miller,

Have you ever thought about riding up to your church on a motorcycle with blinking lights all over it, on the Sunday before Christmas.

Don’t forget the red suit and white beard. In your picture, you don’t strike me as a skinny fellow so your weight is probably ok.

25 Bruce H. December 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

If he wore his lime green blazer he could double as the Grinch! :-)

26 Jess Alford December 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

The Dave that stole Christmas. Yea, You are right Bruce.

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