Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Nativity Of Our Lord
Series C

Option #1: "X Marks The (Xmas) Spot!"
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
1) X, the unknown quantity in algebraic equations, or the mark on the map where the treasure is hidden, is made known!--vv11-12: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

2. X, the Greek letter Chi, as in Chi-Rho, abbreviation for the name "Christ"--Luke 1:18: "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about..."; Luke 1:31: "You will...give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus."

 The Chi-Rho emblem can be viewed as the first Christian Cross.

As a pre-Christian symbol, the Chi-Rho signified good fortune. The Chi-Rho became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name of Christ--the Chi, or 'ch,' and Rho, or 'r'... 

Before it became the monogram of Christ, the Chi-Rho was the monogram of Chronos, the god of time, and an emblem of several solar deities.

The Chi-Rho is also the origin of the tradition of abbreviating "Christ" in "Christian" or "Christmas" to "Xmas."

In Hebrew, Chi-Rho equates to Tav-Resh. The Chi-Rho was used in hermetic alchemical texts to denote time.


3. X, the sign for a kiss--John 3:16: "For God so loved [kissed!] the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Jesus, the kiss of God/breath!

The use of XOXO goes back to the use of an X or cross, which was considered as good as a sworn oath in times before most people could write and therefore used the X in the same way a signature is used today--a mark of one's word.

An X at the end of a letter or document was often kissed as a seal of honesty, in much the same way one would kiss a Bible or kiss the fingers after making the sign of the Christian cross; thus the X came to represent a kiss in modern times.

Robert Hendrickson in his "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" states: "One theory holds that the X stands for a kiss because it originally represented a highly stylized picture of two mouths touching--x. Furthermore, in early times illiterates often signed documents with a St. Andrew's cross of X and kissed that X to show their good faith (as they did with any cross or the Bible, which reinforced the association). But these explanations may be folk etymology, as may the story that mathematically the X is a 'multiplier'--in this case of love and delight." (From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson [Facts on File, New York, 1997])

The origins of the O as a hug are not generally known, although it is speculated that it may represent the arms wrapped around someone being hugged. Another thought is that it came from Jewish immigrants who would sign with an O instead of an X because they did not wish to mark their word with the obviously Christian cross the X represented.

It is also said that X represents kisses because the letter X in Spanish is named "equis," which has a similar pronunciation as "a kiss."


+   +   +

Option 2: "The Shepherd's Shepherds" or "Never Too Mangy For The Manger!"
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Introduction: Although the usual Christmas sermon about shepherds can be a "tired" one--"Why would Jesus appear to shepherds? They were dirty, lazy, smelly, naughty, etc."--a more positive spin/outline is as follows:

1.Watchful shepherds

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night" (Luke 2:8). People such as the innkeeper and the census "countees," though serving and enjoying people--customers to care for, meals to prepare, rooms to get ready, family reunions?--run the risk of missing The Person.

2. Wonder-full shepherds

Fearful wonder: "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified" (Luke 2:9). People with their own ideas about God run the risk of being too sophisticated to believe that The Person/Savior is born in a feed trough--blinded by "The Gory" instead enlightened by "The Glory"!

Reverent and worshipful wonder: "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.' So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger..." (Luke 2:15) "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told" (Luke 2:20)

3. Word-full Shepherds

"When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them" (Luke 2:17-18) The shepherds were full though not bloated!--"Feed me, Pastor: another Bible study, more Bible knowledge..."--because they spread the word, per following:

Where shepherds lately knelt and kept the angel's word, I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;
but there is room and welcome there for me, but there is room and welcome there for me.
In that unlikely place I find Him as they said: sweet newborn babe, how frail! and in a manger bed:
a still, small voice to cry one day for me, a still, small voice to cry one day for me.
How should I not have known Isaiah would be there, his prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart I stare:
a child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me, a child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me.
Can I, will I forget how Love was born and burned its way into my heart--unasked, unforced, unearned,
to die, to live, and not alone for me, to die, to live, and not alone for me?
Text: Jaroslav J. Vajda; Tune: Carl Schalk; Lutheran Service Book #369


Ministry Health Sermon Starters
Copyright 2007 Ministry Health
All Rights Reserved

Go to Main Page

Main Site:

Copyright 1997-2005 Ministry Health, LLC  All Rights Reserved.

Microsoft FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation
Adobe Acrobat and PDF are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated

Contact Support for any technical issues with this website!

This page was revised on: Monday, December 18, 2006 08:06:59 PM