Summary: Uses a video "Feliz Navitoss" as a springboard to talk about why the term "Christmas" upsets some folks.
OPEN: “Feliz Navitoss” (a video from Focus on the Family talking about "tossing" advertising and catalogues from companies that don’t want to mention Christmas. It can be seen at http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000005834.cfm)
APPLY: It’s become something of an annual cultural battle – businesses and community leaders slowly attempting to substitute “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas”. Now, for the most part, Christians are winning those battles… but I have a suspicion that it’s going to be an ongoing fight for the rest of our lives.
Many people - from the ACLU to various politicians, businessmen and educators - are continually attempting to remove Jesus from the nation’s consciousness.
Why? Well, let’s face it, Christmas is – by it’s very name – unabashedly Christian.
It’s Christmas… “CHRIST – mas”
It’s kind of hard to remove Jesus from a holiday that bears His name, unless, of course, you change the name of the season… which is what a lot of people are trying to do.
Now, in John 1 we’re told that just getting Christ “into” Christmas wasn’t an easy task.
Look again at John 1:10-11 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
They didn’t recognize Him? Didn’t receive Him?
Yeah… and it all started from the moment of His birth.
Remember the story of the angels announcing the coming of Jesus to the shepherds? The Shepherds went to Bethlehem to check it out, and then Luke 2:20 tells us
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
They went to see the new born child announced by angels from heaven.
Do you think they kept this to themselves???
Not likely. But we’re never told that anyone else ever tried to visit Jesus in the manger.
A couple of years later, Wisemen show up at Jerusalem seeking the newborn King. Matthew 2:3 says:
“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”
Wisemen show up from miles away to tell the people of Jerusalem that the Messiah has been born… and nobody bothers to go to see Him? What’s going on here?
Well - just like today - people LIKE the story about Jesus in the manger…they don’t want to bother actually going there. They’re busy. They’re distracted. They’ve got more important things to do.
I mean, even for Christians, it’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of Christmas, but forget to spend any time at the feet of Jesus. If that’s hard for us who say we love Jesus how much more for people who might regard Him as an interruption in their lives.
Now, that’s part of the problem for the merchants who are trying to focus on Happy “Holidays” rather than on “Christmas” (the birth of Christ)
ILLUS: I read the true story of a little boy named Justin. Justin’s mother and father had been instructing their son about the birth of Christ. They had used a simple manger scene to tell him about Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. They tried to impress on him that the child born in Bethlehem was someone special.
As the Christmas approached, his mother and grandmother took Justin shopping with them. One salesperson showed him a sparkling display of Santas, toys, and decorations. At first Justin was fascinated. But then he looked up and said, "But where’s the baby Jesus?"
The merchants had left Jesus out… Why?
Did they hate Him… no, I don’t really think so.
But, let’s face it… the baby Jesus doesn’t sell many toys.
Who sells toys?
Santa sells toys.
For many of these merchants – Jesus is an interruption. He doesn’t fit their schedule.
Many of these people aren’t outwardly antagonistic to Christmas. They just have another agenda. Jesus doesn’t fit… so they leave Him out.
But notice how God deals with this.
He doesn’t get angry
It doesn’t matter to Him if the world wants to ignore Christ.
He just keeps telling them anyway
He tells the shepherds and the shepherds are suitably impressed and they tell others
God uses a star to tell the Wise men – and the Wisemen are excited enough about this new king – they tell others.
Like we discussed last Sunday… one of the greatest things we can do – one of the greatest gifts we can give Jesus this season - is to bear witness to Him.
In fact, Jesus is so pleased with us when we do that that He tells us…
"… whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8