Summary: I wonder what Christmas means to the little man in Zimbabwe, 80 years old, living in a hut, who knows nothing of shopping malls or Christmas trees? What does Christmas mean to him? (PowerPoints available - #181)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Slightly Revised: 2014)
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #181.)
A. I wonder what Christmas means to a mother who has lost her husband, who must take care of 3 or 4 children, working every day, never quite getting everything done, never making ends meet? What does Christmas mean to her?
ILL. I wonder what Christmas means to the little man in Zimbabwe, 80 years old, living in a hut, who knows nothing of shopping malls or Christmas trees? What does Christmas mean to him?
I wonder what it means to little Korean children with smudges on their cheeks, & sparkling eyes that look up in wonder as you walk past? What does Christmas mean to them?
I wonder what it means to missionaries who are half a world away from families & friends, who are sacrificing so much to take the precious gospel message to others who have never heard? What does Christmas mean to them?
B. I'm sure that it means different things to different people.
ILL. To merchants it is the busiest time of the year. Stores stay open longer, & hire extra people to accommodate all the shoppers. It means more profit, hopefully enough profit to see them through lean times ahead.
For some employees it means a Christmas bonus, a little more money in their pockets to do things that they want to do.
For many teen agers & adults it is a time of fun & parties. For children it is a time of impatience, as the hours pass by so slowly while they wait for Christmas morning.
But sometimes I get the feeling that we are like the folks who decided to throw a party to honor a special friend. They sent out invitations, decorated the hall, & had the food catered. All the people came together at the designated time, but to their surprise, the guest of honor was not there.
Finally, they made the embarrassing discovery that no one had ever invited the guest of honor.
APPL. I wonder if that happens at Christmas time? Do we go through all the decorating, & buying presents, & preparing elaborate meals, but somehow forget whose birthday it really is?
ILL. One family tried to overcome that by putting an extra place at their table for Jesus, & calling Christmas, "His birthday party." When one of their daughters was asked if she got everything she wanted for Christmas, she answered by saying, "No, but then it's not my birthday."
It isn't our birthday, is it? It's the Lord's birthday & it's a time to remember His birth & what it is supposed to mean to us. So let's turn to Luke 2:8-14. Listen as I read.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
'This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'
"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."
C. The fact that God made the announcement to shepherds helps us to understand the real meaning of Christmas. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," & He chose to announce that to shepherds first of all.
Shepherds were at the opposite end of the social strata from King Herod & all the influential people of the day. They lived in the fields with their animals. They weren't respected. They had no power or prestige.
Yet, God's angel came to them & said, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ, the Lord." Unto shepherds a Savior was born!
In that one simple announcement God made known some very important truths.