Summary: Christmas Eve 6pm service
Luke 2: 1 – 20 / Christmas Message
Intro: It is Christmas Eve and following tradition, you gather with family to exchange and unwrap gifts. You are handed a small, beautifully wrapped present. You unwrap it carefully. The good news is that it is a voucher for $500. The bad news is that it is a gift voucher for a Lexington Plastic Surgery Clinic. --- Congratulations! You’ve got $500 towards having excess cellulite removed or botox injected or wrinkles removed! --- Is that a hint? Can’t you just see it? “Here you are darling! I got you not only what you wanted; but what you needed, a nose job!”
I. Have you ever felt offended by a Christmas gift to you?
A. Maybe you don’t need your face surgically rearranged, your lips inflated, or your chest upgraded a few sizes.
B. But, there is not one of us here this evening that doesn’t need the gift that God freely gave long ago. There is not one of us that doesn’t need the grace and forgiveness brought to the world and yes, even to us, by our God taking on flesh to dwell among us.
C. God’s purpose in sending Christ Jesus is that we do need our sin dealt with. Perhaps you are sitting there thinking, “well maybe other people might need their sin dealt with; but, me? I’m OK. I’m not that bad.”
II. A note appeared in the letter’s to the editor in the New York Times speaking of the irony of the Christmas season.
A. The note read in part, “Failing to find any religious books in the bookshop, I asked the clerk for help. She showed me an inconspicuous handful of Bibles and other religious books saying, “We had to move them down to the bottom shelf because of the Christmas books.”
B. The point is that most of the time God is lucky to make it onto the bottom shelf in our lives. Most of the time God isn’t even a passing thought or is relegated to the basement and covered with dust.
C. Is there more to Christmas than just an excuse for a party or a few days off from work? Is it possible that life with Jesus at the center of our lives is what it is all about?
III. VS. 13 – 14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
A. Christmas is not merely an anniversary celebration of the birth of Jesus --- that is, it is not just the marking of an even in history. It is the active remembering of what God has already accomplished in Christ Jesus and the promise of the coming completion of god’s reign.
B. Despite what the media tells us, the way has been made clear; the chasm between God and humanity has been bridged because of the birth of Christ Jesus and God’s reign of justice and peace has already begun.
C. The point of these two verses is not an exchange of goodwill among people, nor that only people of goodwill have peace. THE POINT IS GOD FAVORS ALL PEOPLE AND IS OFFERING THEM ALL PEACE IN THE BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH.
Conclu: True peace can only be found in Christ Jesus! Once we have accepted that gift from God and unwrapped it, we must decide what we will do with it. --- Will it be relegated to the basement or attic of our lives never to see the light of day again until Easter or next Christmas. What you do with the gift of peace that the Christ child brings is your best gift to others and the only gift truly acceptable to God.