Ramping Up Your Christmas Preaching
An interview with Dr. Matthew D. Kim
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PreachingToday.com: Over your years as a pastor, what's one thing that surprised you about preaching during the Christmas season?
Matthew D. Kim: In being completely transparent, I was surprised by how difficult it was to preach at Christmas. I accepted Christ at the age of 13 and have heard my share of Christmas sermons and I preached several of them as well. The Christmas story can sadly lose its novelty and become a humdrum experience. As pastors, we've all heard the observation of the "nominal" Christian who only attends service once a year on Easter Sunday. He leans over to his wife and says: "This preacher preaches the same sermon every time we come to church." Well, the same could be said of Christmas sermons from the perspective of the preacher. Preaching at Christmas can become lackluster and lose its vibrato. I found that I had to amp myself up each year to try to and be creative in how I preached at Christmastime.
One of the ways that I've tried to get excited about the Advent season is to write Advent sermons from the perspective of those living in Old Testament times. Specifically, I've encouraged my listeners to put themselves in the shoes of the Jewish people who eagerly awaited a Messiah and have my listeners focus on Jesus' wondrous qualities as expressed in various prophetical books.
What are a few pieces of advice that you've learned about preaching during the Christmas season?
One piece of advice that I've heard is to preach a first-person narrative at Christmas. You can choose from a wide variety of persons and narrate the birth of Jesus from their perspectives. I once even heard a sermon on Jesus' birth from the perspective of an animal in the manger.
A second nugget of wisdom that I've retained is to preach on Jesus' birth in the context of his redemptive work demonstrated through his life, burial, and resurrection. It's not only that Jesus came to earth as a baby but he came as a baby to accomplish the purpose of God. For example, we don't always have to feel obligated to preach solely from the perspective of Jesus coming to earth as a newborn. That is, we can preach on a more general theological truth such as the incarnation and show our listeners how the incarnation helped to fulfill God's redemptive plan as Jesus identified fully with his people by becoming fully human.
A third piece of advice that I would pass on is to preach the birth of Christ evangelistically. There are many who come to worship on Christmas Sunday who don't know the gospel. We can use Christmas as a time to present the gospel message clearly concerning Jesus' birth, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
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