Leaderhelps Christmas Stories: Sermon Illustrations for Jesus Season

Leaderhelps.com was started so I could offer tools and resources for church lay leaders, pastors, ministers, Sunday School teachers and small group leaders. I wanted to try to provide some of the helps I wish I had when I was first involved in ministry (thus the name).

One thing that I always sought was a dependable library of effective sermon illustrations, be they stories, media tools, video clips, etc. Specifically, I have always been on the lookout for true impactful stories I could use to support Biblical points.

To that end, with this December series I will offer some Christmas stories I’ve found through the years that may be of help to you as you prep for Christmas preaching and teaching assignments.

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Years ago I was researching Christmas illustrations and ran across a newspaper article. It was a 1995 Chicago Tribute piece written by Anne Keegan, who passed away in 2011. Keegan often wrote about the Chicago police and fire departments.

Amazingly, old as it is, that full article is available for you here.

An excerpt from one of my favorite stories from the article follows. It would illustrate Christmas themes such as giving, sacrifice, innocence and gratitude.

THE OLD MAN IN THE BLACK COAT

He’d been sitting there a couple of days before anyone really noticed him. A quiet old man in a black overcoat, fedora, and shoes wrapped with blue rubber bands to keep the soles on. Officer Nick Kitowski remembers the old guy had big hands-“like catcher’s mitts.”

“He was sitting in an old metal chair in the back of the 18th District across from the desk sergeant, and he didn’t bother anyone or say a thing unless spoken to,” says Kitowski. “He came in every morning, and pretty soon my partner and me were nodding ‘good morning’ to him and giving him the thumbs up every time we saw him.

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Kitowski, a member of the tactical unit, and his partner, Mitch, started asking around about the old man. His name was George. George White. And he lived down the street in a rented room at the YMCA. He had one set of clothes, no relatives that anyone knew of, and in the afternoons, after he left the police station, he rode the Clark Street No. 22 bus for entertainment.

Billy the Greek, over at the G and W grill, gave him a hot breakfast every morning. No charge. Good ol’ Billy. Kitowski and Mitch would start slipping George a little money- “a ‘deuce’ or a ‘fin’ “- every once in a while.

The Chicago cold moved in, and Kitowski and Mitch looked at that old black coat George was wearing. They collected money from the other officers at the station and bought him a nice camel-colored one-warm and woolly. George took it graciously and walked out with it under his arm. The next day, he was back in his metal chair, wearing his old black coat.

“We think,” says Kitowski, “that he gave it away to someone else who needed it. But we never said anything and neither did he.”

Along came Christmas. The two policemen decided to ask George over for Christmas dinner. The two families would get together and George would be the guest of honor.

He accepted the invitation and on Christmas Day the two picked him up at the ‘Y.’

“At home all the kids and wives were waiting, and he took off his fedora and that black coat,” says Kitowski. “He put them neatly behind the front door and sat down in a big chair in the middle of all the action in the living room. There he sat all day, with the kids romping around him.”

There were presents for George, and he opened them carefully, saving the wrappers and ribbons and nodding “thank you” to everyone. When the crowd ran off to the kitchen to view the turkey, Kitowski asked George if he ever had any children.

“George began to cry, so I changed the subject,” says Kitowski, and the day went fine. Round about twilight George announced he thought it was time he went home.

On the ride back, George turned to the two policemen and asked, “Are these presents really mine to keep?”

“You got it. They are all yours,” said Kitowski.

“Then we must stop at the G and W Grill before I go home,” said George.

“Just for a minute.” And with that, George began re-wrapping his presents, carefully, putting the ribbons back on.

When they walked into the G and W, Billy the Greek was there. As always

“You’ve been good to me, Billy,” said old George. “Now I can be good to you. Merry Christmas.” George gave all his presents away that moment. Then he turned to leave, and the policemen drove him home, to a single dingy room at the ‘Y.’