Yesterday we thought about preparing messages on the familiar Christmas passages. Here are some thoughts on preaching for Christmas beyond the normal presentation of the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.
1. There are other ways to preach the narratives themselves. You don’t have to simply talk your way through the text. Consider the possibility of preaching the emphasis of the text from the perspective of a contemporary character – Anna, Simeon, a shepherd, etc. Consider a bit of “in hindsight” first person preaching – Joseph looking back, or Luke having done his research. Remember though, if you have a “manger scene” play with children involved, your going into character may feel like too much of a good thing, even though you will surpass their preparations.
2. Why not preach all four Gospel introductions? We tend to dwell in Matthew or Luke or a blend of the two. Why not introduce people to Matthew’s introduction, then Mark’s (why no birth narrative, where was this all headed anyway, why is Mark 1:1-13 such a stunning intro to his gospel?) Then give them the visitation, prophecy, Mary focused and children prepared emphasis of Luke’s opening chapters. And who wouldn’t want to preach from John 1:1-18 right before Christmas (or any other time for that matter!) All four are stunning pieces of inspired text!
3. 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.
4. 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?
5. 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?
Tomorrow I’ll offer another handful of yuletide ponderings.