We humans are quite fixated with time. Sitting here at my desk, for example, I immediately spot seven different devices designed to somehow mark time. Calendars, clocks, alarms, and alerts constantly surround us. It is impossible to escape time, though we often wish we could. However, time is also valuable to us. We are paid for our time. We pay others for their time. We write songs and poems about the passage of time. We regularly use strange phrases such as ‘have time,’ ‘make time,’ ‘get time,’ ‘kill time,’ ‘time flies,’ ‘time creeps,’ or ‘time is on my side.’ We cry about the passing of time, reminisce for times gone by, regret our use of time, and wish we had more time. No doubt about it, we humans are quite fixated with time.
Considering the magnitude of our preoccupation with time, it shouldn’t surprise us that God uses time to draw us to himself. He has chosen to reveal himself to us in time through the events of human history. Moreover, God has chosen to save us via time. The gospel story is the account of how the Eternal One placed himself within the confines of time to show us the way to everlasting life.
If salvation is properly understood in the framework of time, then time must also be a central aspect of Christian worship. Instead of attempting to escape or ignore time, the church makes use of time in worship by structuring recurring rhythms of the day, week, season, and year. These rhythms are set within the context of a liturgical calendar—a yearly pattern of spiritual life that enables worshipers to commemorate and re-experience the acts of God upon which salvation is grounded. Every season of the liturgical calendar is a specific encounter with the One who was and is and is to come. In each, the church celebrates God’s past actions, anticipates his desired future, and is formed in a distinct way of living in the present.
Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, it is in the reality of the past, present, and future that the church annually observes the Christmas season. Beginning December 25 and ending January 11, the church spends twelve days in worship, joyfully commemorating the mighty acts of salvation established through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Christmas is a time for remembering his birth while also a time for acknowledging that his coming was for the purpose of setting right all that is wrong in the world. It is a season for looking back at the day when the Prince of Peace came to earth, while looking forward to that day when the Prince of Peace will establish all righteousness and justice. It is an occasion for rejoicing, for the Creator has become the created in order to usher in a new creation. It is the time of all time, the arrival of the year of our Lord.
Over the centuries, the splendor of Christmas has inspired the musings of some of the greatest minds in the church. This collection of Christmas sermons, taken from various eras of the church’s history, is only a small sample of the immense collection of material that has been written. Twelve different sermons are included in the collection, one for each of the twelve days in the Christmas season. Some sermons are given in full, while others are only excerpts from longer sermons. Regardless, the timeless message enclosed in every sermon celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ, marvels at the mystery of the incarnation, and lingers in the love of God the Father for all of humankind. As we celebrate this Christmas season, may these sermons reveal to us the goodness of our Eternal God, and may our hearts overflow in praise and adoration as we worship how the One who was before time entered into time to redeem us for all time.