The Incarnation: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God

By Stephen T. Davis; Daniel Kendall et al. | Go to book overview

16 The Incarnation in Selected Christmas Sermons

Marguerite Shuster

Anyone who has worked with the various formal categories of Christian theology knows that, in theology, everything is so tied to everything else that it is a continual challenge to find a way to speak without stumbling over oneself by trying to say everything at once. And what is true of theology generally is perhaps supremely true when the incarnation is at stake. After all, Christian theology gains its particularity precisely through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ; so it would be odd if one's views on these central matters did not significantly shape one's other positions, from the way one conceives the purpose of creation to the way one construes one's final hope for oneself and the created order.

What is true for Christian theology is, if anything, even more true for Christian preaching, for it is the coming of Christ that gives us good news to proclaim. Even those of us who do not insist that every sermon (particularly every OT sermon) must explicitly name Christ, usually expect that all sermons will be moulded at least implicitly by the hope we have in him alone. Thus, one would anticipate finding remarks that in one way or another assume the incarnation almost everywhere in sermons. In fact, given the intrinsic difficulty as well as the centrality of the idea, one might expect to find much more material that simply assumes a vaguely conceived incarnation than that tackles the incarnation conceptually. Intellectual puzzles are not in themselves good preaching material. It follows that a paper on preaching the incarnation could readily be derailed by too much data with too little specificity.

To circumvent these problems, I have chosen to look at selected Christmas sermons (including a few advent and epiphany sermons

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