Summary: In this sermon, we examine the four ways people observe Christmas. The four ways are "Sparkle" Christmas, "Giving" Christmas, "Pageant" Christmas, and "Christ as Lord" Christmas.
A. Christmas time in our day and age can be a very confusing time to children and adults alike.
1. As you can see the manger scene in this picture includes some characters that don’t belong.
2. You can see some kind of snow queen in the back.
3. There are Mickey and Mini Mouse to the right.
4. And what Christmas scene would be complete without Frosty and Santa – they are on the left.
B. I came across this piece that I think illustrates the Christmas confusion we face. Here are some signs that you have fallen into some Christmas confusion:
1. Your child looks at the nativity scene nestled serenely beneath your tree and says, “What’s that camel doing in Santa’s workshop?”
2. Little Johnny is writing a letter to Baby Jesus at the North Pole, asking for a pony like the one Mary Christmas rode in the Christmas pageant.
3. You sing “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “Frosty, the Snowman.”
4. Your pre-schooler adds a green Play-Doh creature to your manger scene insisting, “Mommy, you forgot the Grinch.
5. In the caravan of magi on your roof, the lead camel sports a red 200-watt nose.
6. Your kindergartner comes home from day care with a story that wise guys from back East (probably Atlantic City, New Jersey) gave the first Hanukah presents to three kids named Golda, Frankenstein, and Murray.
C. Our confusion about Christmas stems from the fact that in our day and time, Christmas is celebrated in many different ways.
1. Some of them are sacred and some of them are secular.
2. All these ways of celebrating Christmas have meaning for those who observe them.
3. But how should we evaluate these things?
4. Should all of these ways of celebrating Christmas have a place in our lives as Christians?
5. These are important questions and I trust that God will lead you to the right answers.
D. Let’s discuss these ways people observe Christmas.
I. The first way that people observe Christmas is what we might call – “The Sparkle” Christmas
A. This Sparkle Christmas is a time of fun, frenzy, excitement and exhaustion.
1. It’s what some might also call secular Christmas, and that’s what it is.
2. It is not spiritual. It is secular. But that does not mean that it is sinful.
3. There are many things that are secular that are not sinful – things like sports, art, and music may not have spiritual content, but that does not make them sinful.
B. The Sparkle Christmas Season begins soon after Halloween.
1. You can’t live in the United States and miss it unless you are a hermit, cut off from newspapers, television, mail, and stores.
2. Our whole society becomes immersed in the sights and sounds of this Sparkle Christmas.
3. It’s chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
4. It’s mistletoe and holly.
5. It’s stockings hung by the chimney with care.
6. It’s eggnog and fruit cake.
7. It’s dreaming of a “white Christmas” and fantasies of Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. (I’ve always wondered if “Blitzen the Blue-Nosed Reindeer” would have gone over as well.)
8. As you know, Sparkle Christmas is measured by sales and profits.
9. Our whole national economy is, to some extent, measured by how well Sparkle Christmas is doing.
C. Nevertheless, let’s not minimize the importance of Sparkle Christmas.
1. I’m certainly not here to put it down. I really enjoy this aspect of this holiday season.
2. Granted, it’s a kind of manic/depressive season, producing its highs and lows.
3. Its upside is all the fun, excitement and memories of the season.
4. Its downside is the shopping frenzy, the physical and emotional exhaustion, the fear of missing someone you should have remembered with a card or gift, and the prospect of credit card bills that will come some time in January.
5. Unfortunately, for some, this kind of Christmas is like a narcotic. It numbs them to their deepest needs. The spiritual ones.
D. However, I would encourage you to enjoy the “Sparkle” Christmas.
1. Have a great time with its fun.
2. Enjoy the family gatherings.
3. Delight in the excitement of children and their anticipation.
4. Sing the joyous silly songs, like “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
5. God is not against cultural expressions and customs. God is very much in favor of good, clean fun and frolic.
II. A second way that people observe Christmas is what we might call – The “Giving” Christmas.
A. One of the wonderful things about this season is the way it changes people.
1. Whether people approach the holiday as secular or spiritual, there is a spirit of giving that characterizes the season.
2. During this season there is a spirit of good will and cheer.