A couple of weeks ago, I posted on one of the ways that sermons can go off target at Christmas. In an effort to preach relevant sermons, preachers sometimes miss the theocentric purpose of the passage.In this post, I want to look at the second way that many Christmas sermons go anthropocentric. Warning: this one is controversial. Sometimes, especially at Christmas, we preach exemplary or "be like" messages that make a biblical character, apart from God, the focus of the message.Dave from Bluefish comments:
a couple of years ago i went to a few christmas services across the UK (visiting family/friends)… first we were told that the christmas story was all about Mary… then at the next one that it’s all about Joseph…. felt like standing up to shout, but I’m British and we don’t do that.
I'm not saying that the biblical characters don't have virtues, or that we shouldn't learn from their lives. I am arguing, however, that the biblical characters aren't the hero of the text. God is. The Christmas passages are not about the greatness of Joseph, Mary, the Magi, or Zechariah. The focus is about God. The Christmas story is a pivotal moment within redemptive history. Who would think that God would become one of us in order to save us? That, not the virtues of the other characters, is the main focus of the story.You can still, of course, preach about Mary and Joseph and the other characters. But in doing so we must never lose sight of the fact that God has acted, and that we at best respond to what he is doing, and when we respond it is only because he has given us the grace to do so. God is always the hero of every passage.