Summary: what the true meaning of Christmas is, how it has been lost.


JOHN 3:16-19

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Christmas was first celebrated around 98AD, it was adopted 40 years later as a Christian festival, not until the fifth century was the date permanently fixed to December 25, up until then it was at various times of the year. It is celebrated all around the world in different ways.

England: people go carolling around the streets leading up to midnight mass

France: children put their shoes in front of the fire place so that Father Christmas can fill them.

Spain: people dance and sing in the streets after midnight mass on Christmas eve

Italy: the family prays while the mother places a figure of the Christ-child in a manger

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden: Christmas dinner includes rice pudding that has a single almond in it

Australia, New Zealand: December comes during summer; so many people celebrate Christmas by going to the beach.

We all have traditions throughout our family history; my mum always at Christmas cooks a three course meal, with all the trimmings. The table had snacks on the whole day, it was one day where we did not have to ask for a cool drink or a sweet, we could just have. I am sure all of you have something done each year at Christmas.

Take this story of this young boy: being too young to work and not getting pocket money, he asked his parents if there was some work he could do around the house for some money. The idea was to buy them Christmas presents like they always do for him. He started out right, went shopping but found he did not have enough to buy them something that they could use so he started asking himself, what would I like to get for Christmas, he ended up buying his parents a long string of individually wrapped balls of bubble gum and a chocolate each, he wrapped them and put them under the tree. On Christmas day, when the parents opened their presents, their faces said it all, his mother being tender hearted, said thank you son but you can have it. This of course made the son very happy. His father however tossed the gum to the son and put the chocolate in his pocket. The son not being satisfied asked his dad if he could have the chocolate, the father exploded and said no, ate it and not a word was said between father and son.

Is this not a problem that we all have, the desires to have, the desire to receive, the desire to get it even if it belongs to another. The son was convinced it is far better to get then to give. There are many of us like this, we do not like to give, and I like to give.

Acts 20:35

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

So now Christmas is here again, with Father Christmas asking if you have been good, then you will receive a present, were you naughty then nothing will you get.

You all know that song, ‘you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.

Most of us celebrate Christmas in this way, it is about giving and receiving, but like the boy in the story we only give what we want to give and to whom we want to give it. We spend a lot of money and being who we are some of us start regretting it when the bills come back to haunt us. The world gets more expensive and problems arise because there is no money available to pay that bill.

Now suppose you get a letter stating that your account has been settled in full. They have no details of the person who paid for you, so you cannot arrange to pay them back. What a wonderful gift that would be, you got what you wanted and no debt.

That is what happened when Christ came into the world; we had a mountain of sin and debt. The debt consisted of promises we made to God and did not keep, it consisted of deeds of service we did not do, it consisted of immoral actions and wrong emotions that we did.

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