A friend of mine told me recently something to the effect of, “Believers think that just because we do Christmas that it somehow means we’ve celebrated it.” Too many times December 26th rolls around, and we find ourselves suddenly confronted with the fact that we really didn’t stop in the holiday bustle to truly celebrate Christmas. Sure, we went to parties, bought presents, even preached a Christmas Eve service. But, as it turns out, it was all just seasonal muscle memory, a yuletide version of rote memorization that didn’t really impact the soul.
Preacher, let me encourage to slow down and take some time today to worship.
Read. My wife’s family always reads Luke 2 before opening up the presents under the tree. Time is taken on Christmas morning to reflect on the gift of the Incarnation before we unwrap the gifts we bought each other. If you’re reading this before opening presents, then begin this practice in your family this year.
If you’re reading this after the presents have all been open—maybe it’s that part of the Christmas evening when things are quiet and you’re trying to relish every last second of the spirit of Christmas—then stop reading this blog and read the Christmas story. You know the cultural background, you know the Old Testament promises, you know the cultural significance of the characters involved, and you know the theological implications. You’ve preached this text. Don’t turn off your “pastor brain.” Read the text, slowly, with all that information and then stop and meditate on it. Sit in the silence and reflect on this glorious story.
Sing. Christmas carols, praise and worship songs, or both. Carve out some space in your day to sing songs of worship to our heavenly King. Get the family involved. Pull out the hymnal, if you have one, and sing some great hymns of the faith. Pull up your favorite music streaming service and sing along to your family’s favorite carols or contemporary worship songs. Praise God for what he has done in sending his Son.
Pray. The message of Christmas is one of good news. The holy God of the universe, the only righteous judge, the maker of heaven and earth, sent his Son, who existed from before all time in eternity with Father and shares in all qualities of deity equally with the Father, into the world to redeem the world. The second person of the Trinity took on flesh. The Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary, and Jesus was brought into the world to save his people from their sins.
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God that he did not leave us in our sin. Pray a prayer of confession, recognizing and turning from the sins that still plague you. Look unto Christ, who was born, lived, died, was raised, and lives now interceding on behalf of the saints.
Don’t let today blow past you again. Don’t just do Christmas; celebrate it.
Aaron Halstead serves as the Assistant for the School of Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Coordinator for the Center for Text Driven Preaching, and the Editorial and Content Manager for Preaching Source.