Mondays are usually reserved for what I’ve called “Tools of the Trade,” a list of helpful articles about preaching, pastoral life, and the church. I did not find enough to fill a whole post this past week, so I thought I’d share resources of a different kind.
The tradition in which I grew up devoted most, if not all, of December to Christmas preaching each year. The Incarnation is certainly a subject worthy of annual review. Whether it requires four or five weeks is often a matter of personal preference. I would say this – it does seem odd that we give a month to Christmas and only a week to Easter. But I wonder if that’s because there’s a greater degree of sentimentality attached to the story of Jesus’ birth. Regardless, the invasion of God into our world is certainly worth talking about.
Noted scholar Roland Bainton tells us this about the preaching practices of Martin Luther: “Martin Luther’s Christmas sermon is not one sermon. He preached on the nativity for a period for 30 years, and often a dozen times a year, beginning with Advent and carrying through to Epiphany. And sometimes we have three versions of one sermon.”
The most logical passages to preach from are in Matthew and Luke. John 1 can work well as a Christmas sermon, as can Philippians 2 and a number of the prophets.
Despite the amount of biblical material, I will confess that I didn’t always look forward to seasonal preaching. I’ve found that other pastors are of the same mind, whereas others think quite the opposite.
Whatever your own disposition toward Christmas preaching, there are some great resources that both provide some ideas for how to approach the season as well as some great quotes. In addition, if you have someone do a reading on Christmas Eve, some of these resources contain readings that are appropriate for that context.
Nancy Guthrie gives us Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. The book is described as an anthology of readings from 22 past and present preachers. Highly recommended!
Paul Tripp has an Advent devotional called Come Let Us Adore Him. Anything Paul Tripp writes is worth reading.
John Piper also has a devotional for Advent called The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. If you are familiar with Dr. Piper’s work, you could tell he wrote that just from the title.
If you want to go back in time, look at the book by St. Athanasius, called On the Incarnation. C.S. Lewis wrote the introduction. The Kindle copy was 99 cents on Saturday.
For reading that’s a bit deeper, consider Songs of the Nativity, by John Calvin or Daniel Doriani’s The Incarnation in the Gospels, part of the Reformed Expository Commentary series. Check out Graham Cole‘s The God Who Became Human, part of the New Studies in Biblical Theology, a series edited by D.A. Carson. You might also want to look at Stephen Wellum’s book on the doctrine of Christ, titled God the Son Incarnate.
Whether you preach one Christmas sermon or several weeks worth, I trust that God will prosper your preaching and build the faith of your people during this holiday season!