December 24, 2003: Christmas Eve 2003

Let us pray: O blessed Savior, tonight we have joined to celebrate Your birth. We have come to play the part of those Christmas angels and sing eternal praises to Your holy name. We have come to You because You have come to us—with love, forgiveness, and eternal life all wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. O how precious is Your name, how precious is Your love, how precious is Your life which has saved our very souls! Amen

TEXT: Luke 2: 16: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger.”

Fellow Redeemed By Christ’s Perfect Love:
The woman was hurried and harried as she bumped her way into a packed elevator. Her arms were filled with Christmas presents stuffed into shopping bags. She was grumpy. She was tired. And she just couldn’t help exclaiming: “I’d like to kill whoever started all this!” A single voice from the back of the elevator replied: “They already did.” Stone silence filled that elevator the rest of the trip down. To those who think Christmas is all about lights, presents, meals and parties, the message of the shepherds is simple and to the point: COME AND SEE THE SAVIOR!

Earlier this week I was channel surfing one night before going to bed. Channel 2 had an interesting program all about one of those College Chapels in England which keep alive the great Christian music of Christmas. No doubt, most of you have heard the beautiful carols they sing, and how tickets to those events are so in demand that they’ve taken to broadcasting them worldwide just to keep people happy. The music tradition of those chapels goes back hundreds of years. They made a great deal of the fact that the people singing praises to God this very night had parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who sat in the very chairs singing the very same carols and hymns.—Talk about tradition! They also interviewed the director of that choir who sang some 40 odd years ago and has directed those carol services for the past 30 years. This man is exposed to God’s Word on a daily basis. He has written various modern carols based on the Biblical message of Christmas. He glories in the beauty, simplicity, and profundity of the Christmas Gospel. And yet, when asked if he embraces it and believes it from the depth of his soul, his answer was: No. So, to those who go to church tonight for tradition sake, to those who enjoy the pomp and pageantry of Christmas but fail to take to heart the angelic message: “Today in the town of David a Savior was been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” To all such people we say: Come and see Your Savior!

The older man sat alone on Christmas Eve. His house had some decorations strewn about. The TV was on low. A small candle burned on the table reminding him of his dead parents. He thought back on the past when he was a little boy and he and his parents went to church on Christmas Eve. He thought of the presents. He thought of the love of his mother and father. But now, the years had taken their toll. Church was an almost forgotten memory. His parents were long dead. And he was still bitter with God for leaving him alone in this world. So, he just sat there and wept inwardly. To all who have forgotten the message of the angels and the shepherds joy, God’s Word says: COME AND SEE YOUR SAVIOR!

Was Christmas stressful for the shepherds as they lay there under the stars listening to their sheep sigh in the night? No. They were totally at rest. But then the angel of the Lord appeared to them, their heart rates increased, and we’re told “they were terrified.” And just as suddenly as that terror had come, it passed! It passed upon hearing that wondrous news: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Just as suddenly, a whole army of angels appeared in the heavens praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Stress and terror turned into anticipation and wonder. So much so that when the angels had departed they said to each other: “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 a manger.”

Come and see the Savior! That was the singular truth of Christmas then and it is the singular truth of Christmas today. Tonight you have come. You have come to worship the Savior of your souls. You have come to see His little face smile upon you. You have come to hold His little hand in yours. You have come to feel the warmth of His forgiving love. The only reason for Christmas is Jesus. The only reason for any of us to come on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and every single Sunday is to hold God’s Love in our arms and have our hearts serve as His manger and cradle. And while we’re doing that, God the Father is holding us in His almighty arms, and the Holy Spirit is softening our hearts with faith and love. So, no matter how stressed, lonely, or forgotten you feel. No matter how disillusioned with this hateful world you have become—Come and hold your Savior! Because when you do, you’ll discover the awesome truth that Jesus makes everything right! Amen