Summary: 3rd in series challenging people to make Christmas more about what Jesus wants and less about what we want. Some thoughts are drawn from Mike Slaughter's book

AM sermon preached at Central Christian Church December 15, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas sermon series “Scandalous Love”

A couple of nights back Lori and I went to watch Lanee in her school’s Christmas program. Lori commented on the way how the last time we had gone to a school Christmas program together our kid’s were little. “And now,” she said, “here we are going to see our granddaughter in a program.” I responded with something like, “Are you trying to make me feel old, or what?” Anyway I’d been told a little about the program days before---the storyline centered around Martians visiting the earth and observing earthlings celebrating Christmas and then wanting to learn the reason for all the celebrating. Since this was a public school program and I was sure they wouldn’t be saying that the reason for the season is because Jesus was born, I was wondering what were they going to say. The program was very entertaining and it hit on the ideas of sharing and helping others in need. And the kids did a great job with their singing and speaking parts as they built up to the climactic moment in the program where they offered their answer for all of the celebrating----the reason for Christmas they sang in loud unison “is love.” Now the moment they sang those words, I thought to myself---well I guess that’s about as close as you can get at a public school program to the real reason. After the program I left feeling both pride and disappointment. I was proud of my granddaughter and I was disappointed that our nation under God has so wandered away from God that the name of God and the birth of Jesus can’t be mentioned at public school programs.

It’s really kind of goofy when you think about it. I don’t know maybe maddening would be a better choice than goofy. Seriously have we thought about what we have to do next under the demands of political correctness and tolerance which, of course, has come in many cases to mean reverse discrimination? Will we be told to stop bringing up Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays on President’s day? Will we be told not to bring up Martin Luther King’s name on MLK day and if kids ask we’re to tell them the reason we celebrate that day is equality? Will we have to stop recognizing veteran’s on Veteran’s day?...and while we’re at it will we have to stop talking about any holiday references that have any connection to war because well you know, some people just don’t believe in war. Don’t you ever wonder where does the insanity stop?

Yes, friends, the reason we celebrate Christmas is love---but it’s not love in the general sense---the reason we celebrate Christmas is love in the very specific sense that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, Jesus. Christmas is not a celebration of your birthday and it’s not a celebration of my birthday. It’s a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus---or at least that’s reason the holiday was started. Celebrate Jesus’ birth, that’s what I want to do more than anything else this Christmas season. And by saying I want to celebrate Jesus’ birth, I’m not just talking about feeling good about His coming. I’m not just talking about singing songs about Him. I’m not just talking about taking the time to reread the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth. While all of those things are good and important, I want something more. I want something to take place in me. I don’t want to simply go through the motions, I want my celebration to run a lot deeper than that---I want to celebrate His coming at the very core of my being as these things remind me how His light has shined upon my darkness. And I hope that’s what you want more than anything else this Christmas season too.

Now the scripture passage I’m about to read is one to my knowledge I’ve never used before in a Christmas related message and maybe since I’ve been wanting us to have a different kind of Christmas this year that’s why I feel so compelled to share it. The words are from the third chapter of the book of Revelation. Jesus is basically telling some Christians how He become disappointed with them because their love for Him isn’t what it used to be.... Listen to what He said, Revelation 3:15-19 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”

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