fbpx

Sermon quotes on Christmas

Athanasius

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us.

Augustine of Hippo

Man’s maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.

Sermons 191.1

Augustine of Hippo 

He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.

 Sermon 187

Augustine of Hippo

Christmas is fast approaching. And now that Christ has aroused our seasonal expectations, he’ll soon fulfill them all!

Augustine of Hippo

He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.

Karl Barth

The nativity mystery “conceived from the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary”, means, that God became human, truly human out of his own grace. The miracle of the existence of Jesus , his “climbing down of God” is: Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary! Here is a human being, the Virgin Mary, and as he comes from God, Jesus comes also from this human being. Born of the Virgin Mary means a human origin for God. Jesus Christ is not only truly God, he is human like every one of us. He is human without limitation. He is not only similar to us, he is like us.

Dogmatics in Outline

Karl Barth

This is the good news of Christmas. He who stands by you and helps you is alive and present! It is he who was born that Christmas Day! Open your eyes, open your ears, open your heart! You may truly see, hear, and experience that he is here, very expectation delays the “necessary adjustment of the preadolescent child to the world of reality.

From the sermon: He Stands By Us, Quoted in Lend me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History ed. William Safire (1992).

Jeremy Begbie

Only with great care. For thousands, carols will be their only link with a church. At the same time, sentimentality is perhaps the single most dangerous feature of our Church and culture-and the sentimental air is never thicker than at Christmas. The Incarnation is messy, dirty, and resonates with the crucifixion. We need a new wave of carol writing that can gradually swill out the nonsense and catch the piercing, joy-through-pain refrains of the New Testament.

Pope Benedict XVI

The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time.

Wendell Berry

I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

William Billings

Seek not in courts, nor palaces, 

Nor royal curtains draw; 

But search the stable, 

see your God, Extended on the straw.

“Methinks I See a Heav’nly Host,” in The Singing Master’s Assistant. 

Bono

The idea that there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. Actually, maybe even far-fetched to start with, but the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in straw and poverty is genius, and brings me to my knees, literally. To me, as a poet, I am just in awe of that. It makes some sort of poetic sense. It’s the thing that makes me a believer, though it didn’t dawn on me for many years.

Stuart Briscoe

The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.

Phillips Brooks

It was not suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came into the world. He came into a world that had been prepared for Him. The whole Old Testament is the story of a special preparation. . . . Only when all was ready, only in the fullness of His time, did Jesus come.

Frederick Buechner

The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.

The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story

 

Frederick Buechner

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story

 

Thomas Chatterton

How shall we celebrate the day, 

When God appear’d in mortal clay; 

The mark of worldly scorn; 

When the Archangels heavenly lays,

Attempted the Redeemer’s Praise 

And hailed Salvation’s Morn.

A Hymn for Christmas Day

G.K. Chesterton

Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.

Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family

G.K. Chesterton

Home shall men come 

To an older place than Eden

And a taller town than Rome.

To the end of the way of the wandering star;

To the things that cannot be and that are,

To the place where God was homeless

And all men are at home.

The House of Christmas

G.K. Chesterton 

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

 

 

 

Pamela F. Dowd

God sent a star to light the night for

The Way, The Truth, The Life—His Son.

He sent the Light of Life to prove His heart

so we would invite His Son into our own.

God has given us all the light we’ll ever

need to find peace on earth,

goodwill to men.

Elisabeth Elliot

Jesus loved the will of His Father. He embraced the limitations, the necessities, the conditions, the very chains of His humanity as He walked and worked here on earth, fulfilling moment by moment His divine commission and the stern demands of His incarnation. Never was there a word or even a look of complaint.

 

T.S. Eliot

The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.

Four Quartets

 

Lucinda Franks

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: A cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.

Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me

Benjamin Franklin

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.

 

Billy Graham

Christmas is not a myth, not a tradition, not a dream. It is a glorious reality.

The Cradle, Cross, and Crown

Billy Graham

The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.

George Herbert

The shepherds sing and shall I silent be?

My God, no hymn for thee?

My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds

Of thoughts, and words, and deeds. 

The pasture is they word; the

streams, thy grace

Enriching all the place.

From Christmas

Robert Herrick

What sweeter music can we bring, 

Then a Caroll, for to sing

The birth of this our heavenly king?

A Christmas Caroll, sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Moonless darkness stands between.

Past, the Past, no more be seen! 

But the Bethlehem-star may lead me

To the sight of Him Who freed me

From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

Washington Irving

Now Christmas is come,

Let us beat up the drum,

And call all our neighbors together,

And when they appear,

Let us make them such cheer,

As will keep out the wind and the weather.

The Good Old Christmas Song

Ben Jonson

I sing the birth was born tonight, 

The author both of life and light,

The angels so did sound it; 

And like the ravished shepherds

Said, Who saw the light, and were afraid,

Yet sarched, and tru they found it.

A Hymn on the Nativity of my Saviour

David Jeremiah

All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ.

Timothy Keller

Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you.

Sermon: “Mary”, December 23, 2001.

Timothy Keller 

Christmas, like God himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.

Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, Penguin Publishing Group.

Henry Law

What self denial! What self abasement! What self emptying! He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. Can it be, that the great ‘I AM THAT I AM’ shrinks into our flesh?

Jay Leno

The atheists have produced a Christmas play. It’s called Coincidence on Thirty-Fourth Street.

David Letterman

Halloween is the beginning of the holiday shopping season. That’s for women. The beginning of the holiday shopping season for men is Christmas Eve.

C.S. Lewis

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”

The Last Battle

C.S. Lewis

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)

I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;

Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence

Some woolly innocence!

Larry Libby

Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Savior! The angels called it “Good News,” and it was.

Christmas Stories for the Heart

Hamilton Wright Mabie

The season which

Engages the whole

World in a

Conspiracy of love.

Steve Maraboli

Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Brian D. McLaren

Politicians compete for the highest offices. Business tycoons scramble for a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Armies march and scientists study and philosophers philosophise and preachers preach and labourers sweat. But in that silent baby, lying in that humble manger, there pulses more potential power and wisdom and grace and aliveness than all the rest of us can imagine.

Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections on a New Way to Experience and Practice the Christian Faith, FaithWords

Thomas Merton

Into this world, this demented inn

in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all,

Christ comes uninvited.

Raids on the Unspeakable

Thomas Merton

There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.

Jürgen Moltmann

God became man that dehumanized men might become true men. We become true men in the community of the incarnate, the suffering and loving, the human God.

The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology.

Mother Teresa

At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.

Love: A Fruit Always in Season

Mother Teresa

As soon as we take the enfleshment of God, the incarnation which, for Christians, is represented by the person of Jesus Christ, then we start taking things seriously.

Simple Path, Ballantine Books.

Mother Teresa 

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.

Taken from MariLee Parrish, Love Came Down at Christmas, Barbour, 2013.

J.I. Packer

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.

Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, 1973, pp.55-56.

J.I. Packer

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the most profound unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. God became man; nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the incarnation.

Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, 1973.

J.I. Packer 

The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.

The Christian Reader

Pope Paul VI

We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice.

John Piper 

Christmas: the Son of God expressing the love of God to save us from the wrath of God so we could enjoy the presence of God.

Twitter Post, Dec.24, 2012

Eugenia Price

God is willing to walk the earth again incarnate in us.

Early Will I Seek Thee

Christina Rossetti

What can I give Him 

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb; 

If I were a wise man

I would do my part,-

Yet what I can give him

Give my heart.

A Christmas Carol

Dorothy L. Sayers 

The dogma of the Incarnation is the most dramatic thing about Christianity, and indeed, the most dramatic thing that ever entered the mind of man; but if you tell people so, they stare at you in bewilderment. 

Taken from Laura K. Simmons, Creed without Chaos: Exploring Theology in the Writings of Dorothy L. Sayers, Eerdmans.

Luci Shaw

And when she, birth-giver—

her ordinary vision arrowed down between

her legs, through pain and straw, to her son’s dark,

slime-streaked hair, to his very skin, red with

the struggle of being born—she lifted him

to her breast, kissed the face of God,

and felt her own heart leap.

Recognition

Ralph W. Sockman

The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.

Source Unknown

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.

Source Unknown

Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal man may live in eternity.

Michael Spencer

Without the incarnation, Christianity isn’t even a very good story, and most sadly, it means nothing. “Be nice to one another” is not a message that can give my life meaning, assure me of love beyond brokenness, and break open the dark doors of death with the key of hope. The incarnation is an essential part of Jesus-shaped spirituality.

Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

R.C. Sproul

What we celebrate at Christmas is not so much the birth of a baby, but the incarnation of God Himself.

Charles Spurgeon 

We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Savior was born, it is the 25th of December. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give thanks to God for the gift of His dear Son.

Corrie Ten Boom 

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn

Draw forth the cheerful day from night;

O Father, touch the east, and light

The light that shone when Hope was born.

In Memorium A.H.H. 30

Howard Thurman

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with the flocks,

then the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal those broken in spirit,

to feed the hungry,

to release the oppressed,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among all peoples,

to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,

every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.

Then the work of Christmas begins. 

George W. Truett

Christ was born in the first century, yet He belongs to all centuries.

He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races.

He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.

 Charles Wesley

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;

hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel 

Charles Wesley 

Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born king.” Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

E.B. White

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.

The Distant Music of The Hounds”, The Second Tree from the Corner

N.T. Wright

Christmas is God lighting a candle; and you don’t light a candle in a room that’s already full of sunlight. You light a candle in a room that’s so murky that the candle, when lit, reveals just how bad things really are.

For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church

Philip Yancey

Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.

The Jesus I Never Knew

W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

O.P. Kretzmann

One of our troubles, is that we have romanticized and sentimentalized the stable and the manger…We see them through the warm glow of our comfortable homes, our candles and our well-fed bodies….Perhaps we have never quite dared to face up to the fact that a stable is no easy place to have a baby…and a manger is no good place for a child to begin life….It was cold, ugly, dirty, and mean in Bethlehem that night, far, far away, as far as you can get, from the golden streets, the pearly gates and the chanting of cherubim and seraphim … all the things that make heaven Heaven.

J.I. Packer

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

If you lacked simplicity, how then should this fall to you that midnight skies are a shine with? God, who stoked at men mild in you now comes to mortal eyes. That he’s not more great—does this surprise? What is greatness? Sweepingly his fate cuts across all human measuring. No star, even, has a path so straight. Look, these coming now are great, these kings dragging to your lap, as presents, things which, they hold, are greater far than all. Maybe they astound you, gifts like these:—look, though, how within your folded shawl he excels already all one sees. Amber, shipped across great distances, golden ornaments and fragrant spice such as makes the heavy sense swim: these were pleasures over in a trove, and regretted when their power grew dim. But (as you will see): joy comes of him

Taken from “The Birth of Christ” in Rilke: Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series) Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.  

Madeline L’Engle

This is no time for a child to be born,

With the earth betrayed by war & hate

And a comet slashing the sky to warn

That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,

In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;

Honour & truth were trampled by scorn —

Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?

The inn is full on the planet earth,

And by a comet the sky is torn —

Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Taken from “The Risk of Birth”, Christmas, 1973, in The Ordering of Love: New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle.

O.P. Kretzmann

One of our troubles, is that we have romanticized and sentimentalized the stable and the manger…We see them through the warm glow of our comfortable homes, our candles and our well-fed bodies….Perhaps we have never quite dared to face up to the fact that a stable is no easy place to have a baby…and a manger is no good place for a child to begin life….It was cold, ugly, dirty, and mean in Bethlehem that night, far, far away, as far as you can get, from the golden streets, the pearly gates and the chanting of cherubim and seraphim … all the things that make heaven Heaven.

C.S. Lewis

“It seems, then,” said Tirian, smiling himself, “that the Stable seen from within and the Stable seen from without are two different places.” “Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.” “Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

The Last Battle

Daniel Darling

The message of Christmas, then, is not about manufacturing sentimental feelings in vain hopes of a miracle. It’s about believing the reality that God has birthed something new in Jesus and because of this, God will birth something new in you and in me. And that newness is breaking out, still today, in the hearts of God’s people amidst a broken world. Sinful, dead hearts finding life again. And we, at Christmas, sit in silence and await another Advent, when that child returns as the King, to complete His mission to restore hearts and renew the world.

The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus, Moody, 2019.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Christmas. 

Follow us on social media: