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Christmas Light

A sermon series idea that focuses on the role light plays in the unfolding Christmas story.
Christmas Light
Image: Os Tartarouchos / Getty Images

Soon the Christmas season will be upon us. Perhaps by now some preachers have already planned their sermon series—while others may not yet have settled on how to approach preaching the Incarnation. Of course, preaching during Advent and Christmas may provide challenges for the preacher. How does one preach about the birth of Christ—again?

Reflecting on a possible angle from which to preach the Incarnation, let me suggest the theme of light. Whether it is the glory of God that surrounded the angels, the light of the Bethlehem star, or the truth that Jesus is the light of the world, the concept of light figures prominently into the coming of the Savior as a babe born in Bethlehem’s manger and extends into Christ’s life and ministry—and ours as well.

The sermon starters below are suggestive for this series titled, “Christmas Light.” The six text-sermon series provide insight into the way in which light plays prominently in the unfolding story of the predicted coming of the Christ, the birth of Christ, and the promise of Christ in the life of each believer.

The Promise of Light: Isaiah 9:1-7

Isaiah begins this prophecy stating that amid spiritual darkness, the blackness that plagued Israel and plagues us today, is pierced by the light of God’s salvation. This promise is later fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. The homiletical idea might be: Our Divine King has come, bringing light to the dark places and establishing an eternal kingdom (Andrew Thompson, The Big Idea Companion for Preaching and Teaching, 256)

The Overcoming Light: John 1:1-18

John begins his account of Christ underscoring the preeminent place of Christ from the beginning of time. He states that all creation comes through Christ and that this Christ is life—and light. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5), or “has not been able to overcome it.” Christ is insurmountable. His influence and power—his light—is irresistible. A possible homiletical idea is: “Jesus brought light to us when he came in the flesh—full of grace and truth.”

The Light of God’s Glory: Luke 2:8-20

Luke shows us that common people—like lowly shepherds—were included in the story of the birth as they were bowled over by the light of God’s glory as it appeared to them in the person of the angel and the glorious sky above. By the word of the angel and the praise of the heavenly host, the light of God’s glory confirmed to all that these sheep herders were told about the birth of the Messiah. The light of God’s glory was the exclamation point of the message of the birth of Christ. It propelled these simple followers to obedience and adulation. The piercing of the light of God’s glory into our lives leads us in the same way—to obedience and adulation. A suggested homiletical idea is: “God chooses the lowly to show that in light of his holiness Jesus Christ is savior to all kinds of people.”

The Guiding Light: Matthew 2:1-12

Matthew’s account of the birth of the Savior describes the role that the star’s light had in leading the Magi to the young Jesus. The leading light and worship go hand in hand as these pagan religious leaders recognize the place of this child-king. They bow before him. Give gifts to him. They honor him. The guiding light of God led the Magi to the Christ child—the same light that leads all people to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord, the one who deserves our worship. A homiletical idea to consider is: “God’s glorious light leads people to recognize Jesus as the Christ.”

God Is Light: 1 John 1:5-10

John underscores who God is—pure, holy, light! “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is not darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). There is nothing unclear about John’s statement about God. The Lord dwells in inapproachable light. John is telling followers of Christ that since God is light and that they claim to be followers of that light, then they are to act like light and not live lives of darkness. When his followers live in the light, this light purifies them from their sins. This light, who is God, enables us to live lives that honor him—and when we sin, we can experience cleansing from the God who is light. A homiletical idea might be: “God is light and we are to live lives that reflect that light.”

Jesus Is the Light of the World: John 8:12

Jesus makes the audacious statement, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 9:12). Here, Jesus claims who he is—Lord—and his mission. He is the Lord and when one recognizes—follows this Lord—one will not be in spiritual darkness (death) but will have eternal life. This Christ who was born in Bethlehem’s manger was the fulfillment of the predicted light of the prophets, the focal point of the guiding star, and is the Light who is God. In him we have hope in darkness. In him we have life because of the light he brought to this world. A suggested homiletical idea is: “Because Jesus is the light of the world we don’t have to live in darkness anymore.”


Christmas light shines on us every day, not just in December. The reminders from the Prophets, the truth of the Gospel narratives, and the Epistles underscore the penetrating ray of salvation that is ours to preach. These sermons span the Bible in ways that help us to see the amazing way that the Lord has highlighted the birth of Christ and the impact of Christ in this world and in the next.

Preach Christmas Light with confidence as you proclaim once again the Incarnation this Christmas season. And know that you preach with certainty in this gospel that declares the holy, infiltrating truth that the promise of the salvation of God is fulfilled in the strong, unavoidable, amazing light and life of Jesus the Christ.

Scott M. Gibson is the Professor of Preaching and holder of the David E. Garland Chair of Preaching at Baylor University/Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas. He also served as the Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he was on faculty for twenty-seven years.

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