Summary: Use the principles of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus in Christmas to prepare the way for the new year.
1. I am not a big fan of Christmas – there are theological issues in which a pagan story of Mithras became the basis for the date of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. [Similar for Easter]
a. Jesus’ birth is mentioned but not specifically when
b. Jewish people tend not to celebrate birthdays
c. Imagine the idolatry that would happen if we knew the actual day!
d. Puritans forbad non-biblical celebrations
2. HOWEVER, Christmas time is a great season
a. People are different at Christmas time because of the thought of Jesus [Naughty and Nice list?
b. WWI Christmas story
“On the first Christmas Day of World War I, British and German troops put down their guns and celebrated peacefully together in the no-man’s land between the trenches. The war, briefly, came to a halt.
In some places, festivities began when German troops lit candles on Christmas trees atop their barricades so the British troops a few hundred yards away could see them.
Elsewhere, the British acted first, starting bonfires and letting off rockets. Private Oswald Tilley of the London Rifle Brigade wrote to his parents: “Just think that while you were eating your turkey, I was out talking and shaking hands with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before! It was astounding.”
Both armies had received lots of comforts from home and felt generous and well-disposed toward their enemies in the first winter of the war, before the vast battles began in 1915, eventually claiming ten million lives. All along the line that Christmas Day, soldiers found their enemies were much like them and began asking why they should be trying to kill each other. The generals were shocked. High Command diaries and statements express anxiety that if that sort of thing spread it could sap the troops’ will to fight. The soldiers in khaki and gray sang carols to each other, exchanged gifts of tobacco, jam, sausage, chocolate and liquor, traded names and addresses and played soccer between the shell holes and barbed wire. They even paid mutual trench visits.
This day is called “the most famous truce in military history.”
3. Imagine the Christmas spirit all year – Christmas can prepare the way for the new year Just as John did for Jesus and the Jews.
4. Luke 1.8-17
5. Let’s apply the role of John the Baptist to Christmas as we prepare for the New Year.
I. Special Joy – vv. 14-15a
A. The Birth of a Child brings Joy
1. Special joy for Zechariah and Elizabeth
2. Joy in the Nation seeking the Messiah
B. John’s Joy Came in His Role – Luke 3.15-17
1. He Pointed to the Messiah
2. His greatness came in his willingness to decrease and for Jesus to increase – John 3.30
C. The Coming Messiah was a Message of Joy – What if that carried all year? – Luke 2.8-11
II. Significant Spirit – v. 15
A. Spirit, not wine – Ephesians 5.18-20
B. The HS brings Joy in His Presence
1. Kingdom of God – Romans 14.17
2. Fruit of the HS – Galatians 5
3. What if we prepared the year with joy that followed?
III. Seriousness of the Message – v. 16
A. A Message of Repentance