December 25, 2001: Christmas Day

Dearest Jesus, today as we come to worship You our hearts are full-full of Your love, full of kindness, full of Your warm embrace. Lord, we’re here today to love You back. We’re here to give to You praise, honor, glory, and the resolve of our hearts to never forget You by never forgetting to recharge our faith in You. Lord, keep us up to that challenge and that joy. Amen

TEXT: Luke 2: 15-16: “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.”

Fellow Redeemed Sinners Uplifted And Made Whole By A Child:

Once upon a time the Jones family was getting ready to celebrate Christmas. For the Jones’ Christmas was “family time.” It was a wonderful season in which the whole clan gathered together, ate a terrific meal, enjoyed each other’s company, and exchanged special gifts. But this year Christmas for the Jones’ would be extra-special. You see, Danny Jones, the oldest son of Fred and Marion, was coming home from war-time duty in the Middle East. Danny would be the star attraction. In fact, the entire clan had decided to dedicate this Christmas to Danny and to having him home.

Well, on December 23rd Danny’s plane touched down. Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins-they had a huge contingent of Jones’ waiting at the airport for him. They had signs, balloons, and more hugs than you can imagine. Yes, the Jones’ received their Christmas gift! Well, the next day Fred, Marion and their kids assembled at Gramma’s house for Christmas Eve. Someone asked: “Where’s Danny?” The reply was: “Oh, we forgot to bring him along. He’s going to stay home, watch football, and eat a T.V. dinner. Anyway, this Christmas isn’t about Danny, it’s about the rest of us having a good time with family and friends!”

Obviously such a disgraceful event would never happen in America, would it? Especially after what people have been through over the past months. And yet, it is happening over and over again this very day! For countless people, even some church members, have forgotten about honoring Christ above all else this Christmas.

One of our members recently told me that their boss informed his workers, “Christmas is about spending time with family and friends. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s a season to enjoy each other.” How wrong and how sad that is! No, Christmas is all about Christ. Period. It is all about worshiping the Baby Jesus because He came to honor you and to uplift you with His gracious presence. Danny Jones may have put his life on the line to defend his country and his fellow Americans. But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, put His life on the line and was born to die and then rise again in order to save each and every one of us eternally. So, I ask you: “Who deserves greater honor? Who deserves accolades? Who deserves your time, energy, and emotional commitment today?” Isn’t the only answer: Jesus Christ?

Certainly Christ was born into a family, a poor and humble family at that. And His very birth in that stable with a young, inexperienced mother, a broke, struggling father who was far from home-all that shows us that God always “exalts the humble” doesn’t it? It also shows us that God blesses family time and family togetherness. He blest it with His gracious presence, agreeing to be born into our human family. Nonetheless, Christmas is about Christ, not just families. It is about the gift of God’s eternal love, not just about exchanging presents.

When I was a child we always went to church on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. To avoid or to neglect either service was unthinkable. Yes, Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. Yes, we had terrific meals and fun times around the tree. But our focus was on honoring the guest of honor. It was all about worshiping the Christ-child. So, we arranged our schedules around the church services. We conformed to Him instead of making Him conform to us. For without Christ as the focus of our celebration there would be no celebration.

My friends, we had and have good company in such an approach to Christmas! It was the approach of the angel hosts who appeared to the shepherds and trumpeted their praises. It was the approach of the shepherds themselves who dropped everything and hurried off to Bethlehem to see the Blessed Infant and to worship Him. And just as their first Christmas was unforgettable because of it, so, too, for us.

Tomorrow or later this week someone will ask you: “Did you have a good Christmas?” By that question they usually mean, “Did you get a lot of great gifts, eat a tasty meal, and spend some quality time with family and friends.” Well, when they ask tell them the truth. “Yes, I had a wonderful Christmas because Christ honored me and I was given the privilege of worshiping Him!” Yes, God is good to us! Amen