The Christmas season adds a lot of extra responsibilities to your plate—including sermon preparation, outreach organization, candlelight service arrangement, Christmas parties, the list goes on and on.
Add to this your personal family commitments. But as busy as you’ll be this Christmas season, that’s not your biggest problem. Your biggest concern is that you’ll be too familiar with the Christmas story.
You’ve read this story a hundred times. You’ve preached it, sung about it, and probably have recited it in your sleep. You know the story too well.
You’re not alone. In fact, you can look at the Christmas story itself for company. During the very first Christmas, there was a group of people who missed the birth of Jesus because of familiarity: the religious leaders in Jerusalem.
You’ll notice that when the Son of God was born, not a single religious person was invited. The people who should have known the most about the birth of Jesus, the spiritual and religious leaders of Israel, didn’t have a clue.
Wise men who had studied the Hebrew Scriptures came from the East because they had seen the Star. They knew the Savior of the world had been born, but they didn’t know where.
When they asked King Herod of Israel, he didn’t have any idea. He asked his religious scholars, and they knew exactly what he was talking about. They’d been waiting for this moment for hundreds of years. They had discussed it, debated it, detailed it, and dissected it.
Those of us in ministry should take that as a cautionary tale. We may know the Christmas story inside and out. We can teach it, preach it, and recite it from memory. But we can also completely miss the meaning of the story for ourselves.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew every religious tradition by heart, but they wouldn’t walk five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to witness the arrival of God’s Son. Let’s be honest—that’s us sometimes.
But it doesn’t have to be true this year. Pastor, here are three actions you can take to make sure you don’t miss the real reason for Christmas.
I know it’s tough to stop running and slow down during this season. It’s one of the busiest times of the year for pastors. But remember what the psalmist says: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
Sometimes the most important part of worship during the holiday season for those of us in ministry is the simplest—we need to chill out. God always speaks to the person who is willing to listen. God doesn’t talk to you if you’re constantly telling him you don’t have the time. Do you have time to talk with God this Christmas? If not, you need to make the time because nothing else matters more.
Take another look at why Jesus came in the first place. Don’t just do this when you’re preparing for your Christmas sermon. Make the effort to read the Christmas story with fresh eyes, maybe in a translation you’re not accustomed to using.
Don’t let yourself get too familiar with the Christmas story. Remind yourself of what God did to show you his love. You need to be reminded of that just as much as the people you’re serving this season.
Spend some time expressing gratitude to God for sending Jesus to the world for you. Gratitude is a life-changer during the Christmas season. God gave you the greatest Christmas gift you’ll ever receive. Let him know what that gift means to you.
Don’t miss the real reason for Christmas this year. As you invest in others this Christmas and help them understand the true meaning of the holiday, take time to stop, look, and say thanks to God to refresh your own perspective on the Christmas story.
Make this your best Christmas yet!