I may be alone in this conclusion, but I’ve often found it harder to preach during the Christmas season. Below are some of the reasons for my feelings. I’d love to hear from other pastors – am I off target here?
- The season is often busy and tiring, making it more difficult to find time for studying the biblical text. That may be different this year due to COVID, but some holiday seasons are just exhausting. Finding focused time for sermon preparation is more difficult.
- Some of us put more pressure on ourselves to “perform” well during the Christmas season—the only time of year when some folks will be attending our church. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to grab their attention, clearly preach the gospel, and make them want to come back before next Christmas. In many cases, we think we have only one opportunity to do this, too.
- The story of Christmas is glorious—but we personally still sometimes take it for granted. Unfortunately, we go through the motions of re-telling a story we’ve told many times before. We let it become routine, and our preaching shows that lack of passion.
- Our congregations, too, have usually heard the story many times—and keeping their attention isn’t always as easy. That means we must work even harder at sermon application. We have to help our people see how relevant the ancient story is to their lives today.
- It sometimes feels like Christmas sermons are the “same old thing” every year. In some ways, they are the same because the story never changes—but we wrongly assume we must come up with something fresh and original every year. That’s tough to do.
- We have a tendency to land only on the birth narratives of Jesus (Matt 1-2, Luke 1-2) for our Christmas sermon texts. For some reason, we seem to temporarily forget that the whole Bible is about Jesus. Surely, though, we can rightly tie many biblical texts to the incarnation of Christ. Our job, then, is to help our congregations see those connections.
- We don’t typically feel much freedom to divert from preaching about the Christmas event during this season. Most of us serve congregations who would grant us that freedom as long as we’re following the leadership of the Spirit, but we fail to remember that fact.
- We don’t share these sermon prep struggles with our congregation—which means they’re not aware of our need for their prayers. Hence, we wrestle through this important process on our own. This task would be much easier, I trust, if others are interceding for us.
Pastors, I encourage you to seek intentional intercessors for your preaching this season. Lay leaders, take time today to pray for your pastor!