Summary: Wouldn't it be wonderful if we actually started to practice the things we hear & sing about at Christmas time? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would take the spirit of Christmas with us all through the year? (PowerPoints Available - #108)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message is available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & request #108.)
(This is a shorter and somewhat revised version of one of my earlier sermons: "Holding On to Christmas.")
TEXT: Matthew 2:13-23
ILL. I imagine almost everyone here remembers Charlie Brown & Lucy in the comic strips. Well, a few years ago Lucy was pictured walking up to Charlie Brown just before Christmas & saying, "Charlie, since it is Christmas, I suggest that we lay aside all our differences & be friends for this season of the year."
Charlie Brown replies, "That's a great idea, Lucy, but why does it have to be just at this time of the year? Why can't we be friends all year long?"
Lucy looks at him with that look that only Lucy can get & says, "What are you, a fanatic or something?"
A. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we actually started to practice the things we hear & sing about at Christmas time? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would take the spirit of Christmas with us all through the year?
And when it comes to thinking about how Christmas should affect us, I can’t help but think of the Christmas hymn, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day.”
I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play,
And wild & sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, & mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Yet pealed the bells more loud & deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”
-- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If all who talk about "peace on earth" during Dec. actually started to practice it & all who talk about "good will to men" suddenly began to be good to those around them & recruited others to do so too, think how different our world would be!
ILL. Someone has compared Christmas to skydiving. Christmas is like that sense of freedom & excitement you feel when you jump out of an airplane & are free? falling through the air. You feel the wind on your face & can see the beauty of God's world for miles around.
But the earth is rushing toward you, so you pull the ripcord. Your parachute jerks open, & soon you hit the ground with a jolt. For a few brief moments you felt a wonderful exhilaration & then "plop." You are on the ground, facing reality once again, back to the humdrum of everyday life.
B. Is that what has happened with Christmas? Christmas is wonderful, & then "plop," it is face to face with reality once again? What about the shepherds who heard the angels & saw the baby Jesus? Did that Christmas make any difference in their lives?
And what about the wise men who came to worship, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh? I’m convinced that once they saw Jesus, their lives were never quite the same again.
I. JESUS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE HOME
A. Certainly, life was never the same again for Mary & Joseph. They now had a baby to take care of, & their lives were changed forever.
ILL. I remember when our first child was born. I saw her tiny little face & realized that I shared the responsibility of molding & forming her personality & guiding her to be what God wanted her to be. That was an awesome responsibility!
I imagine Mary & Joseph felt that in a greater way than any of us, because the child they held in their arms was God's Son. They were responsible for raising God's child!
ILL. The late Erma Bombeck in her book, "If Life is a bowl of Cherries, Why Am I Always in the Pits?", recalled the legend of a church where the chimes rang miraculously whenever someone gave a generous gift.
But the chimes hadn't rung for a long time, even though kings & potentates had come to give gifts of gold & silver & precious gems. The chimes had not rung for a long, long time.
But one Christmas Eve a little peasant boy came down the aisle & knelt before the altar. As he thought about the Christ?child lying in a manger, he took off his tattered coat & laid it on the altar. When he did, the chimes rang loud & joyously.
Erma Bombeck wrote, "I've heard the chimes ring, too. I remember a Christmas when one of my sons brought me a piece of tattered construction paper on which he had tried to draw a picture of praying hands, & underneath the picture he had written, 'O Come, Holy Spit.'"