Christmas unvarnished: A savior for a troubled world

Five years ago I preached a Christmas sermon that struck out with one family.

I know that preaching can be a dangerous business. But I’ve always thought the hazard was wrapped in the risk of trying to handle divine mysteries. Hold those mysteries too casually and you’re as good as someone who drops babies on a regular basis.

What I underestimated on that particular Christmas night was the peril of tampering with holiday sentiment. The sermon I preached, which is still vivid in my mind, was evidently too much for this family. It sent them packing. The mother told me in the receiving line that mention of children being murdered had no place in a Christmas sermon. “I will never set foot in this church again.” She has faithfully lived up to her word. Except for spotting her in a restaurant one time, I haven’t seen her since she shook my hand at that midnight hour and calmly placed her candle and cardboard drip-catcher in the box.