Summary: A sermon for a Christmas in July worship service.
“Christmas without Santa”
In my 20 years as a pastor I have preached on this passage once every year.
But it’s always the same time of year; I have never preached on the birth of Jesus in July!!!
But why not?
After-all, as far as the exact time of year Jesus was born--we really don’t know.
And, also, shouldn’t we be celebrating the coming of God into our world all year round?
Well, I think we do…
…but we certainly don’t focus on what has become known as the Christmas story all-year-round.
Usually, when I am preaching from this Scripture passage, it is Christmas Eve.
My family and I are exhausted from the stress of Christmas shopping, trying to come up with new and exciting ways to celebrate Advent, the joys of family reunions, the excitement of our children as they talk about the gifts they will find under the tree, several Christmas Choir Cantata’s, Caroling, gift-wrap, 24-7 Christmas songs—whether they be on the radio or in the shopping malls--Santa Clause, Christmas movies, and I could go on and on and on.
But what would Christmas be like without all that stuff?
I’ll never forget a colleague of mine walking into a clergy meeting several years ago and declaring: “If I have to look at one more Christmas Casserole I am going to puke!!!”
I wonder if, sometimes, we get so caught up in the commercialization of Christmas, the busy-ness of Christmas and so forth that we forget to focus on--Jesus?
And that's why mid-summer is the perfect time to celebrate Christ's birth, without all the trappings of holiday hubbub that take over our whole society every December . . . and November . . . and sometimes even before the Halloween decorations are put away or put up.
In July, we can interrupt our regularly-scheduled summer programming and focus just on the coming of Christ.
And it’s not just the coming of Christ in some nostalgic, sentimentalized and watered-down way.
After-all, notice what the angel of the Lord says to the shepherds: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…”
It doesn’t just say: “A Savior has been born…”
It says: “A Savior has been born to or for YOU!!!”
This is the “good news that will cause great joy”—this is the Gospel—this is the reason that we live.
God has decided to come and dwell among us—corporately and individually!!!
As Paul proclaims in 1 Timothy 1:15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
Have you ever felt like that?—the worst of sinners?
But you know, that’s not a bad place to be as long as we are aware that Jesus is here with us, that Jesus has come to forgive us, to save us, and that He loves each and every one of us so much that He left the Heavenly Throne and entered the muck and mess of this world—in order to save you, to save me.
We are not alone.
This life, is not, after-all, a cruel joke where we are the punch-lines.
There was a time when I had really, really hit rock bottom.
Have you ever been there?
I think a lot of us have; perhaps some of us are there this morning.
In any event, I was at the end of my rope, when, suddenly I had an epiphany.
And it was so real, it was so full of light and of hope and of joy that I called up a friend who had been very worried about me and exclaimed: “You know, rock bottom really isn’t all that bad—because Jesus is here and that is all that really matters!!!”
I was suddenly so happy even though the events around me had been tragic.
My poor friend, was like: “That’s wonderful Ken,” I think it was like One o’Clock in the morning.
Recently, we have been hearing and reading in the news that the suicide rates in Tennessee and the rest of the nation are at record highs.
I wonder if part of the reason for this is because so many of us do not know that Jesus is with us when we arrive at the bottom of the pit—that there is hope—there is a Savior—there is a God Who loves us, Who came to live with us and die for us.
I think the most beautiful part about how God chose to come into the world is who God chose as His parents and Who God first appeared to.
Mary and Joseph were two young people who must have been scared to death.
Not only had they not planned for this birth, and plenty of people were surely gossiping about their situation but they had to travel, due to the census, while Mary was expecting to have the child.