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Evangelistic Preaching Helps for Christmas Day, Year A

Evangelism Preaching Helps is a resource designed as an aid to assist in the preparation of sermons with an evangelistic focus. Evangelistic Preaching Helps addresses three audiences: Christian, pre-Christian and de-churched. Periodically feature articles and sermon series aids will also appear in Evangelistic Preaching Helps. Thank you for your continued use of this resource.


Lectionary Readings Readings [Proper III] for December 24/25, 2010 — Christmas Eve or Christmas Day

  • Isaiah 52:7-10
  • Psalm 98 (UMH 818)
  • Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)
  • John 1:1-14

Online texts are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library. http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=7 For a brief summary of each text and help with selecting complementary liturgy, see The Text This Week for John 1:1-18.

Scripture Notes for John 1:1-14

Summary:

  • Jesus is the Word, co-existent with God since the beginning.
  • Jesus is Creator of everything.
  • Life in Christ is the light that darkness cannot overcome.
  • John the Baptist testified to the light so that all might believe.
  • John the Baptist announced that the light [Jesus Christ] was coming into the world.
  • Jesus was in the world he created, but the world did not know him.
  • Jesus' own people did not accept him.
  • To everyone who did believe in Jesus, he gave power to become children of God; that is, born of God.
  • The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of his glory.

Overview:
The prologue in the Gospel of John highlighted Jesus Christ as the pre-existent one and Jesus as the Creator of all things. Clearly, John meant to describe Jesus as the Word made flesh or God incarnate. There is also a dual emphasis on the eternal (the cosmic realm of the Word of God) and the temporal (the earthly realm into which Jesus is born). The arrival of God from the cosmos onto the earth shows God's personal interest in the plight of humanity. The existence of a "relational God" remains relevant to us today.

Our penchant for individualism; high-tech, low-touch; and impersonal living demonstrates the need for a personal Savior who can relate to human need through personal experience. John the Baptist testified that Jesus, the pre-existent one, the Creator, the Word made flesh, was coming in person and that people should believe in him. In the twenty-first century, we would do well to proclaim that Jesus Christ is a personal God in whom we can trust. John the Baptist declared the first coming of Christ. We must declare the Second Coming of Christ.

Key Preaching/Teaching Points:

Key message: Jesus Christ came to earth as the Word made flesh, and John the Baptist testified about the incarnate Christ.

Key Preaching/Teaching Points of of Jesus' Incarnation Story:
The gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke begin by focusing on Jesus' genealogy. Matthew traces Jesus' lineage back to Abraham and David. Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to Adam. Both approaches focus on Jesus' humanity. By contrast, John focuses on Jesus' divinity and pre-existence before creation.

Key Preaching/Teaching Points of the Passage:

  1. Jesus Christ, as pre-existent God, was not content to remain outside of the realm of human existence to watch humanity struggle alone. Jesus entered human flesh to live among people in personal relationship.
  2. John the Baptist functions as a herald who cries out in testimony of Jesus Christ's arrival on earth. This role of witness of Jesus remains relevant for us in the twenty-first century.
  3. The world that Jesus Christ created did not recognize him. In what ways do we continue to "miss God" today?
  4. To those who believed in Jesus, he gave power to become children of God. What does it mean to have this power, and what difference does it make in a person's life?
  5. Children of God are not born of blood or the will of the flesh or the will of people. Children of God are born of God. What does it mean to be born of God? How does one become born of God?

Evangelistic Preaching Notes for John 1:1-14

Evangelistic Preaching Tips: This portion of John's Prologue emphasizes Jesus' incarnation as God/man and concludes by noting that belief in Christ is accompanied with the power to become children of God. Prepare for the preaching moment by personally reflecting on questions such as:

  1. How do we fail to recognize Jesus, Creator, today?
  2. What does it personally mean for you to have power to become a child of God?
  3. What difference has this power made in your life? Note personal examples.
  4. Being born of God — What does that mean for you personally?
  5. How would you lead someone into being born of God? What would you say?

    Preach from the inspiration and conviction derived from answering the above five questions.

    Reading: John 1:1-14 [An Evangelistic Approach — To lead people to Christ]

    Special Delivery. Have you ever heard the words "special delivery" uttered by a courier carrying a package with your name on it? Few words can bring such a sense of awe and wonder. Delivery of an unexpected package generates excitement and spurs the imagination. Who could have sent it? What's in it? Why did I get this? What's the occasion? On the first Christmas, Jesus Christ came as a special delivery package to the world. God wrapped in human flesh came to show the world its Creator and invite the world to believe in Jesus Christ. God came personally to deliver the gift of eternal life to all who believe. Each Christmas season, the flurry of gift giving creates a sense of anticipation to receive a special gift. This Christmas, why not receive the gift of Jesus Christ, our "special delivery" present?

    Aim: Invite pre-Christians to receive the special delivery gift of wholeness and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Reading: John 1:1-14 [A Renewal Approach — To strengthen the faith of Christians]

    Christmas Sponsored by Eternal Power. What could be worse than a power shortage at Christmas? For one group of people, Christmas represents family traditions, holiday foods, and special visits with family and friends. For another group of people, Christmas represents another layer of loneliness and depression. The last thing either group needs is a power shortage that would spoil the festivities or worsen the misery. In a sense, walking through life without Jesus Christ is like experiencing a perpetual power shortage. A faithful relationship with Jesus Christ comes with a bonus — power. "But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (verse 12). Does your life shine with God's redeeming power, or would others declare that a power outage has occurred?

    Aim: Remind Christians to live as empowered children of God.

    Reading: John 1:1-14 [A Reclamation Approach — To restore "de-churched" individuals to vital faith in Jesus Christ]

    "Been Missing You." In the midst of scurrying about to buy Christmas gifts, it is easy to lose sight of the true spirit of Christmas. The Christmas season provides us with opportunities to make life-changing decisions. How do we choose to treat others? Are we guilty of being callously self-absorbed? Has Jesus been trying to get our attention through some life circumstance? When Jesus came to earth as the incarnate God/man, Scripture says, "He came to what was his own, and his own did not accept him" (John 1:11). If we have been missing God, this Christmas provides us with the opportunity to get reacquainted with Jesus Christ.

    Aim: Encourage "de-churched" people to reflect on the true spirit of Christmas and get reacquainted with Jesus Christ.

    Provide Opportunities for a Faith Response

    Prepare small gift boxes with "Special Delivery" written on them. Distribute the boxes to people in the congregation. There are two options for their use:

    1. Leave the boxes empty. As a response to the message, people could write what gift they will offer to Jesus Christ this year. Collect the responses. Another option is to have a sign-up sheet for a special ministry project for volunteers to do ministry.
    2. Place a slip of paper with a portion of today's Scripture in the boxes. Remind people that Jesus offered himself to us as a special delivery gift on that first Christmas.

    Provide Opportunities for Follow Up

    If people turn in responses listing their interest in doing some ministry in the church or community, follow up with a call or visit and get them involved in ministry.

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