Summary: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
FOUR WORDS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR CHRISTMAS: RECEIVE
So we come to the end of Advent. Our goal has been to encourage and empower us to have the Christmas we’ve always longed for. We are allowing God to infuse our Christmas with an authenticity – to make it possible for us to get to Christmas evening without a sigh of disappointment. I hope the pieces are coming together for you. We have chosen to look at four simple words that can change our Christmas. The first three words were: worship, rebel, and give. Together, these three offer a holy balance; principles that can actually make Christmas different. They make a 3 legged stool to support the weight that Christmas has accumulated.
Maybe with the fourth word we can move from an insulating, defensive posture to one of celebration and cheer.
And for that I turn to the story of the shepherds.
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15When 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.”
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Let’s pause and pray.
The angels’ proclamation was an invitation. It was an invitation to the shepherds to allow the historical events happening in Bethlehem become part of their personal stories. It would have been easy for the activities in that stable to have moved on and the shepherds remain oblivious. The angels prevented that.
Look at verses 10-12 a little closer.
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.”
The angels made the story of the birth personal. They made it the shepherds’ story.
If we want to have the Christmas we’ve always longed for we will have to allow God to make this historical event our story too. We will have to have some “ownership” in it as well.
As I said, the objective of our final word is to move from a defensive posture akin to “let’s not get this wrong this year” to a positive posture of celebration and cheer. When the shepherd’s story becomes our story this can happen; 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great JOY. I contend that making their story your story will help us to also be “joyful” (v.10) and “amazed” (v. 18).
Let’s face it. One of our underlying objectives this year is to have authentic joy / authentic cheerfulness in the Christmas season. That is also one of God’s objectives. Joy is, you may recall from this past summer’s series, a tell-tale sign of one who is filled with God’s Spirit.
And the key to this joy – this cheer (same word in Greek) is found in our last word – RECEIVE.
Joy is an interesting word study. It has the same root as a few other words we talk about around here.
The word for joy or cheer is “chara” (joy) or “chairo” (joyful).
You might think that word sounds a bit familiar. It does. The root word is “charis” which is the word that is consistently (always) translated “grace” is the New Testament.
They are related to yet another word “charisma” which means “gift of God” or “spiritual gift.”