Area pastors say they are inspired when writing their Christmas season sermons. Most are inspired by the Christmas story itself, by human kindness and Christians’ shared belief as to why Jesus was born.
“We sit, we think, we read and we pray. And God speaks to us,” said Pastor Doug Harn of Victory Assembly of God in Hinesville. Harn also is a Manna House board member and vice president of Liberty County’s Homeless Coalition. Manna House is a food pantry that provides food for needy families.
Harn said he has taken on the challenge of preaching from every book in the Bible.
For Christmas, though, he concentrates on the last line of Isaiah 9:6, which Christians consider to be one of the passages that prophesize Jesus’ birth: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Pastor Herman Scott of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church said composing sermons takes him several hours, but understanding what should go into a sermon “takes a lifetime of study.” Scott is president of the Liberty County’s Homeless Coalition.
He said he focuses on various topics leading up to and on Christmas Day. He preaches about faith, home and love, he said.
Scott said he also incorporates Bible-study lessons into his sermons, working through one text before continuing to the next. He said he began his scholarly journey with church members 10 years ago.
The Rev. Katrina Deason of Liberty Prayer Chapel said she is inspired both by God’s generosity and that of her neighbors. Deason is executive director of Manna House.
“Generally, what inspires me is the generosity shown by people each year,” Deason said. “I am always awestruck by the way people are willing to share, even those that don’t have a lot.”
Deason recalled how one man donated his entire Christmas bonus to the poor.
“Countless stories like that, I experience each year,” she said
From a ministerial standpoint, Deason often refers to John 3:16, as proof: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Love motivates you to give,” Deason said. “(At Christmas) a generous spirit comes upon the hearts of the people.”
The Rev. Kathleen Ayala of Christ Tabernacle of Faith Church in Hinesville also draws sermons from the Bible.
“When we read scripture, (our) understanding begins to widen,” Ayala said.
She said she tries to use modern language and points out that many of the struggles people in the Bible experienced are the same as challenges people face today.
“How they related to one another, their hopes and aspirations … these things never really change,” she said.
Ayala said the anticipation a savior’s arrival helped keep people going in Biblical times, and does the same today.
Dr. Timothy Byler of Connection Church said his Christmas message is inspired by the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus and, more importantly, by why Jesus was born.
“We celebrate in Advent hope, joy, peace and love and then on Christmas Eve we light the fifth candle, the Christ candle that signifies Christ,” Byler said.
He said he retells the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. Byler said he not only strives to convey messages of hope, peace and joy, but also to make these concepts relevant to church members’ lives.
Byler said he asks, and answers, the following questions during his Christmas season sermons.
“How do we live in peace even in a less than peaceful situation?” the pastor said. “How does a soldier find peace when he is in harm’s way? How does a family find joy when they’re separated by many miles of distance ... How do we experience love in our lives and demonstrate it to others? I use real life situations and real world experiences to convey that message.”