The Surefire Method for Writing Compelling Christmas Sermons
After graduation from Boston University School of Theology, and following close on the heels of the mid-May joyful commencement ceremony in Marsh Chapel, some students suddenly find themselves, July 1, in a pulpit on Sunday, in meetings during the week, living in a parsonage, and wondering how to stoke the fires of a stewardship campaign.
When Christmas starts to roll around, a set of specific seasonal questions may arise, one of which is about preaching. How do I preach coming to Christmas? What shall I say, or how shall I say what I say, coming to Christmas? How do I get started as I design a sermon in December?
Coming to Christmas, you may confidently rely on the narrative and on narrative in general.
I am not generally a fan of narrative preaching, though I respect the work F. Craddock and others did to rejuvenate preaching a generation ago. But the narratives at Christmas carry well, as do stories resting upon them. There is something in the journeys at the heart of the season that calls for, or calls out, narrative.
- Some narrative is right in the Scripture—Samuel, Mary, John, Jesus.
- Some comes from the tradition (have you read Luke 2 in the KJV lately?).
- Some is reasonable, a recognition of the way our individual smaller stories fit into the one great story of the one great day of God (when you can pastorally connect someone’s personal story with an aspect of the gospel story you have given a powerful gift).
- Some is in our own experience.
Here are two examples of Marsh Chapel sermons, as a merry Christmas gift and wish, to illustrate how a narrative can function in sermons coming toward Christmas.
The first example shows how a narrative can function as a portion of a sermon.
The second example shows how narrative can be used as the design of the full sermon.
How have you used narrative in the past? How might you use it in the future? Jump in on the comments section and let me know.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill is Dean of Marsh Chapel, Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology, and Chaplain to the University. Click here to peruse the Marsh Chapel sermon archive with more recent sermons available in both text and audio.