The Christmas Eve crowd is a really hard group to preach to. Hardest group of the entire year.
For some of you, this Christmas Eve will be your 40th or 50th or 60th Christmas Eve service. You’ve heard about the baby in the manger so many times that I’ve got to really strain to come up with something new to say to you. You’ve heard the Christmas story from the innkeeper’s view, the innkeeper’s wife’s view, and even the donkey’s view. Nothing I say is going to be new. I’m destined to bore you.
Some of you are children and after the Christmas Eve service you get to go home and open a few gifts. So if I go much past 15 minutes you’re going to drop the Atomic Bomb on me – you’ll start crying in public. And will anyone blame YOU? No, you’re young and cute. They’ll blame ME.
Some of you are traditionalists. You see the guitars and drum set and you think: “I swear, if you don’t let us sing “Silent Night”, I will torch this place. You’ll come back on Christmas Day and find it a heap of smoldering ashes.” Give me my Silent Night!”
Some of you are reluctant husbands attending for your semi-annual church service. Or you’re adult children who are home for the holidays. Even before you got in the car you were mad at me for even HAVING a Christmas Eve service.
Some of you are cynics. Mentally you’re sitting in the pew with your arms crossed thinking: “Go ahead: PROVE the virgin birth. I dare you.”
And some of you are just up to here with holiday stress. You’re just looking for someone to lash out at, and since I’m the one standing up talking in a cheerful voice I’m the perfect candidate to receive the vomitus of your angst.
Some of you are hipster Christians and you’re on fire with faith. You’re deeply suspicious of all the pomp and pseudo-spirituality of Christmas Eve, and you’re mad at me for not being more radical. I’ve chosen not to be your champion, and you’re now considering another church.
And there are some of you who are just coming to worship the Lord. You’ve done your own inner sorting through all the perverse things our culture does to Christmas, and you’ve decided to ground yourself in the massively obscured truth that God has come to earth to claim us. No matter how tasteless the children’s pageant is, how false your pew companions are, and how poor or gutless the sermon is, you are here out of loyalty to the one true God.
I thank you.