I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled to write the next sermon until the current one is done. Funeral on a Saturday? Sunday’s sermon isn’t getting finished until after the burial and luncheon. Holy Week? Don’t even ask me about Easter until after Good Friday. This has made for some very quick turn-arounds over the years between Advent 4, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas 1.
My primary ministry setting at the moment is in hospital chaplaincy, so I haven’t had to navigate the dance of online worship, sermon recording, YouTube premiers, and Facebook Live streaming. For those of you who have to pre-record your sermon, I imagine that the pressure to work ahead has only intensified over the past months. Perhaps you’ve already recorded your sermon for the Sunday after Christmas! If so, I apologize for the lateness of this post.
But if you’re still writing, please share your ideas in the comments below! The first Sunday in the season of Christmas is often one with low attendance due to people traveling, but that won’t be the case this year. Do you anticipate your usual crowd? More or less people than usual? Many congregations do something less formal for Christmas 1 – a hymn sing, or a children’s book in place of a sermon. Do you have anything unique planned for the 27th?
If you’re going with a traditional sermon using the Revised Common Lectionary texts, here are a few ideas:
- The prophet Anna had dedicated her life to service in the Temple. When she saw the baby Jesus, she broke into spontaneous praise of God. When have you been so overcome by emotion that you just had to sing, or dance, or tell everyone within earshot the good news?
- Simeon told Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” How do you think Mary felt about this prophesy? Was this something she had already figured out in the months since the annunciation? Was this another thing that she was left to “ponder in her heart”? Or did she simply brush off Simeon as being overly dramatic?
- The entire childhood of Jesus is summarized, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” When we next meet Jesus, he has just been baptized. What do you think happened during the intervening years? How did Jesus gain wisdom? In what ways did he show that he was favored by God? What ever happened to Joseph, anyway?
- Psalm 148:4 reads “Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!” With this year’s Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, it truly seems that the heavens are doing something special. In what other ways does creation offer praise to God?
Blessings to you as you prepare to celebrate the incarnation!
Katya Ouchakof is a chaplain and paddlesports professional in Madison, WI, USA. She is almost done with Christmas cards and gifts for family and friends. If she missed you, many apologies – send her your info to get a card next year!
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