A Pastor’s Guide to Celebrating Christmas as a Church

December 20, 2018

by Kent Hughes

The Why

When the Passover was instituted, the Lord specified to Moses, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord” (Ex. 12:14). That same day, when Moses concluded his instructions for observing the first Passover, he said: “And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses’” (Ex. 12:25–27). Thus, we understand that the celebration of the Passover was not an option. It was not man’s idea but God’s. Remembering God’s saving work was essential to the faith of the generations to come and ultimately to their embracing “Christ, our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7).

In the same way, the annual celebrations of the saving work of the Lamb of God through his incarnation, death, and resurrection (the gospel) are essential to the spiritual well-being of God’s children and their children’s children. These are, without reservation, the greatest events of world history. As such, they are events that the faithful pastor uses to instill the essentials of the gospel in the lives of his people by the prayerful preparation of sermons and services that evoke the question, “What do these things mean?” to which he then heralds the eternal answers.

The How

On Christmas Eve, the eternal Son of God stood poised, so to speak, at the rim of the universe, radiating light. Then he dove headlong through the galaxies and over the Milky Way toward our planet and into the watery warmth of the Virgin’s womb, where he first became a zygote, then an embryo, then a fetus, and then a baby, who would be born of Mary in a barnyard on what we call Christmas Day. Isn’t that the most beautiful story ever told? But today it is lost amid the glittering and plastic sentiment of our culture, which, without the Christ, is a yellow brick road to darkness.

Our task as pastors is to put together services in which the great story is preached in its rich biblical context amid hymns and songs that lift up the glories of the incarnation, so that our children and children’s children will wonder at and understand its meaning. The following resources will aid the busy pastor.

. . . continue reading at Crossway.

Kent Hughes

Dr. Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of practical theology at WTS.

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