Summary: Celebrate Christmas from the very core of who we are because wrapped up in this God child are salvation, a relationship with God, the revelation of God, forgiveness of sins, and eternity with God.
Christmas is almost here, just one more day to wait! This is an exciting time! Tomorrow morning, when we get up, the day will be filled with laughter and fun and all of those great traditions that take place on Christmas morning. The kids will come in early and make Erin and I send them back to their room at least four times before 6 AM. My brother and sister and I used to do this every year when we were little. We got so frustrated that my parents didn’t seem to share our sense of urgency, we didn’t think that 5 or 6 in the morning was too early to begin celebrating Christmas! One year we came up with the perfect plan to get our parents attention and to get them out of bed on Christmas morning. They voted that I should play my trumpet as loud as I could as soon as I woke up. Well, it worked. My dad got up! Amazingly, my trumpet survived the wrath of Scrooge that morning but it never was used on Christmas morning again! Now the shoe is on the other foot and Erin and I have to remind ourselves that we did the same things when we were little.
I love to watch the kids as they first come in to the room and see the tree all lit up and the presents all spread out. It’s fun to watch the joy and the smiles on their faces. That’s a part of Christmas I wouldn’t want to miss. Then there’s the food. Christmas breakfast has always been a big tradition for us. Cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, eggs, bacon, there is so much to look forward to. Often, Christmas day is the easiest day to forget about Christ. We can focus on Him in the build up to Christmas, but when the day arrives, between family and the presents and the cooking, and other things, He gets left out of the actual celebration. One of the ways that my parents would help to remind us to celebrate Christ’s birth was through a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. Do any of you do that? It was a great way to remind us to turn our thoughts back to Him. We did it every year except the one that my dad dropped the cake onto his foot. We would always bring out the cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him as a way of remembering the Truth of Christmas, what was still going to be there long after we cleaned up and the memories and presents faded away. It helped to keep Jesus at the center, especially on Christmas Day.
That’s what we’ve been trying to do for the last few weeks, to break through all of the outer trappings of this holiday season and to turn our thoughts and attention back to the basics, to a mother and her newborn child in a lonely stable in a far away place. Back to the appearance of the angels, the wonder of the shepherds, and the awe of a father as he tries to take it all in. Over the last five weeks, we’ve been talking about “The Christmas You’ve Always Longed For.” We’ve talked about a need to slow down and reflect, we’ve talked about refocusing, sighting in our scopes so that Jesus will always be in the middle, in the center of our line of sight. Two weeks ago we talked about the background. We looked at how Mary focused on the important things and trusted God for the impossible details to be filled in. I hope that you have been able to do that these last few weeks. If you have, I know that God is faithful and I know that you have seen Him work in your lives this Christmas in a way that is beyond anything you could have accomplished on your own.
Today, on Christmas Eve, I want to wrap things up. (that was a joke) I want to take a good look at the manger this morning. I want you to leave this place with no doubt in your mind who it was that was born and with no doubt in your mind what He came to accomplish when He made His home among us.
Home is a very important part of Christmas. It always has been. There is something in us that longs for the closeness and familiarity of family at this time of year. I can remember the feeling as I laid my pen down after the last question of the last final of each of the Fall semesters that I was in college. There was only one thought on my mind, I was going home. It was time for Christmas break and I was going to be with my family.