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A. I wonder what Christmas means to a mother who has lost her husband, who must take care of 3 or 4 children, working every day, never quite getting everything done, never making ends meet? What does Christmas mean to her?
ILL. I wonder what Christmas means to the little man in Zimbabwe, 80 years old, living in a hut, who knows nothing of shopping malls or Christmas trees? What does Christmas mean to him?
ILL. I wonder what it means to little Korean children with smudges on their cheeks, & sparkling eyes that look up in wonder as you walk past? What does Christmas mean to them?
ILL. I wonder what it means to missionaries who are half a world away from families & friends, who are sacrificing so much to take the precious gospel message to others who have never heard? What does it mean to them?
B. Iím sure that it means different things to different people.
To merchants it is the busiest time of the year. Stores stay open longer, & hire extra people to accommodate all the shoppers. It means more profit, hopefully enough profit to see them through lean times ahead.
For some employees it means a Christmas bonus, a little more money in their pockets to do things that they want to do.
For many teen-agers & adults it is a time of fun & parties. For children it is a time of impatience, with time seeming to pass so slowly, as they wait for Christmas morning.
ILL. But sometimes I get the feeling that we are like the folks who decided to throw a party to honor a very special friend. They sent out invitations, decorated the hall, & had the food catered. All the people came together at the designated time, but to their surprise, the guest of honor was not there.
Finally, they made the embarrassing discovery that no one had ever invited the guest of honor.
APPL. I wonder if that happens at Christmas time? Do we go through all the decorating, & buying presents, & preparing elaborate meals, but somehow forget whose birthday it really is?
ILL. One family tried to overcome that by putting an extra place at their Christmas table for Jesus, & calling Christmas, "His birthday party." When one of their daughters was asked if she got everything she wanted for Christmas, she answered by saying, "No, but then itís not my birthday."
It isnít our birthday, is it? Itís the Lordís birthday & itís a time to remember His birth & what it is supposed to mean to us. So letís turn to Luke 2:8-14. Listen as I read.
(READ Luke 2:8-14)
C. The fact that God made the announcement to shepherds helps us to understand the real meaning of Christmas. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," & He chose to announce that to shepherds first of all.
Shepherds were at the opposite end of the social strata from King Herod & all the influential people of the day. They lived in the fields with their animals. They werenít respected. They had no power or prestige. Yet, Godís angel came to them & said, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ, the Lord." Unto shepherds a Savior was born.
In that one simple announcement God made known some very important truths.
I. GOD KNOWS YOU, AND YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO HIM
First of all, it tells us, "No matter how insignificant you may think
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