Christmas. One of the two days of the year that you have to have a good message. (The other is mother’s day by the way. On Easter you are preaching to the congregation anymore. On Christmas and mother’s day you still get a chance to preach to the unconverted.) On top of being good, it has to be short. On top of being short it has to carry off a tone. Film makers do this by shooting specific places and then blurring or making crisp the picture. For example, if they want to paint a tragically romantic scene they might take a picture of a late autumn forest and blur it a bit. The same spot made crisp might convey instead of tragic romance a lurking dread. 10 seconds of such a picture sets the tone.
The audience is probably coming into the service either exhausted, angry, nervous, lonely, or annoyed. That is what we do to ourselves around Christmas. And the service in that frame of mind is one more thing to get through. The goal of the Christmas sermon (and the entire service) is to take people from that negative place, and to move them to a much different view of Christmas. To admit that this state I’m feeling right now is a result of how messed up the world actually is because of sin, and to rest in the fact that God has provided a savior. The tone should be one of a giant exhale.
This sermon didn’t pull punches. That is usually what the Christmas sermon does. It forgets the law. It goes along with the culture and the charade of a perfect Christmas. It talks of love and warm fuzzies, but without acknowledging the real state of people’s minds and why they are that way. That sermon fuzzes out the bad stuff and because of that can satisfy at the moment but is without merit. It is complicit is painting the Christ out of Christmas. This one didn’t pull those punches, but hopefully balanced it out with the gospel.