Summary: This message was used for our Blue Christmas, Silent Night Service.
What Christmas is all About Silent Night.
Start with clip from opening of A Charlie Brown Christmas
Contrary to what Linus thought, Charlie Brown was in good company, there are all kinds of folks who feel the same way about Christmas. They are confused because they don’t feel jolly, they aren’t experiencing Christmas cheer and they don’t understand the phrase Ho Ho Ho.
Instead of wanting to celebrate they would like to find a room where they can be all by themselves and hide until Christmas is over. I love the significance of Christmas but I’m not necessary a Christmas fan. I could do without the tree, the meal and the gifts, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy or apathetic.
But for some people it’s deeper than that, Christmas is a reminder of what their life isn’t or perhaps what their life is.
Christmas seemed to magnify and polarize what Charlie Brown felt his life was like the rest of the year, in one scene he goes out and looks in his empty mail box for the Christmas Cards that aren’t there and he says. “I know nobody likes me why do we need a holiday season to emphasize it?”
But there are other reasons as well. Maybe because there is an empty place at the table this Christmas. At a time of the year when family is being celebrated their loss is magnified and it doesn’t matter if it’s the first Christmas or the tenth Christmas it doesn’t seem to get any easier.
And maybe the loss is because of death or perhaps because a relationship is different than it was last year.
Or maybe it is the harsh reality of economics. You can’t provide the trappings and gifts that are expected, or you do provide them and aren’t sure how you will pay for them when the bills hit.
Or maybe you’re just a melancholy person, and if so you are in good company. Winston Churchill often spoke of the Black Dog, his term for the depression that followed him throughout his life.
Charlies Spurgeon one of histories greatest preachers struggled with depression throughout his ministry. In a paper entitled “When a Preacher is Depressed” Spurgeon wrote “Fits of depression come over the most of us. Cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”
And you don’t have to read very far in the Psalms to discover the same David who wrote “The Lord is my shepherd” also wrote in Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
And maybe you don’t fit in any of those categories, you don’t understand why, but Christmas just isn’t merry for you, at least not this year.
And this service isn’t designed to drag you unwillingly into the joy of Christmas but instead perhaps to offer you hope that God is there and that God cares.
There is a story in the book of John that more than any other reveals the human side of Jesus’. Because that is the mystery of the incarnation, that Jesus is 100 % God and 100 % human. And because we are afraid that people might miss Jesus’ divine nature we sometimes neglect his humanity.
The story is told in John chapter 11 and happens just a week before Jesus and his friends would celebrate the Passover. And in many ways our celebration of Christmas would have many things in common with how the Jews celebrated Passover. It was about food and family and celebration. But this year would be different for one family who lived in the village of Bethany.
They were close friends of Jesus, two sisters named Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. And we discover that in the midst of preparation for the Passover Lazarus become sick and dies.
Would Passover ever be the same for Mary and Martha? Or would it always be a reminder of their loss? On my sister’s birthday in 2001 she sat in the funeral service for her middle daughter and unborn granddaughter, who had been killed in a car accident just days before. And every birthday since has been coloured by that event.
When Mary and Martha realized just how sick their brother was they sent for the friend Jesus, who they believed had the power to save their brother, but it was days before Jesus arrived and by then Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
And we pick up the story in John 11:32-36 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”