Sermons

Summary: The essence of Christianity is this remarkable truth: Christ came from heaven and died for us on the cross and rose again so that, in the person of the Holy Spirit, he might dwell in our lives.

Response Goal: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will join me in starting each day by saying, “Behold, the servant of the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. More than anything else, I want Jesus to show up in my life. I’m available to you.”

REPENTANCE POINT {paradigm shifts or changes in our thinking}: The essence of Christianity is this remarkable truth: Christ came from heaven and died for us on the cross and rose again so that, in the person of the Holy Spirit, he might dwell in our lives.

PATTERN: INDUCTIVE -- PASTORAL CARE INTERVENTION

Visual/Sensory Illustration(s)

Video clip from Muppet Christmas Carol -- Spirit of Christmas Present song

Song – “Something about Christmas Time”

Salvation Army flag with motto

THIS IS OUR PROBLEM:

I’ve been thinking about the thing that we call “the Christmas spirit.” Have you ever noticed? Once a year from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, something happens. People’s attitudes go through a transformation. We start hearing songs about peace and goodwill. We go out of our ways to give and forgive. Families get together. We call this different atmosphere “the Christmas spirit.”

Everyone enjoys the Christmas spirit but we loose it shortly after December 25th. The sad thing about the departure of the Christmas spirit is that the kindness, the generosity, the peace and goodwill, and the warm feelings are something we long for and look for deep down in our hearts. I imagine that the short-lived experience of these enjoyable things only adds to our disappointment.

[Video clip from Muppet’s Christmas Carol]

Key Question:

Could something that feels as powerful and wonderful as the Christmas spirit last all yearlong? Or, is that just a midwinter’s night dream?

SYMPTOMS OF OUR PROBLEM:

I found an almost unbelievable demonstration of how the Christmas spirit comes and goes in a story told to Pastor Stuart Briscoe years ago by an old German man.

He fought with the German forces in the First World War. In those days, battles were not high tech but hand-to-hand trench warfare. Soldiers lived, fought, and died in trenches full of mud and blood and pests. In the trenches dug in the fields of France, enemies could actually hear each other talking. They didn’t need satellites to locate the enemy. The enemy was just a few yards away.

This old soldier told about how on one cold, moonlit Christmas Eve, he huddled in the bottom of the trench. Because of the annual Christmas truce, the fighting had stopped. Suddenly, from the British trenches, a loud, sweet tenor voice began to sing “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” and the sound floated up into the clear, moonlit air.

Then he said something surprising from the German trenches, a rich baritone voice tuned in, singing the same song in his native language. For a few moments, everybody in both trenches concentrated on the sound of these two invisible singers and the beautiful music and the harmony. The British soldier and the German soldier sang praise to the Lord who was their shepherd. The singing stopped, and the sound slowly died away.

“We huddled in the bottom of our trenches and tried to keep warm until Christmas Day dawned,” he said. “Early on Christmas morning, some of the British soldiers climbed out of their trenches into the no man’s land, carrying a soccer ball.” These English soldiers started kicking around a football, in a pickup game in no man’s land, between the trenches.

Then the old man said, “Some of the German soldiers climbed out, and England played Germany at football in no man’s land on Christmas Day in the middle of the battlefield in France in the First World War.” (England won.)

Then he said, “The next morning, the carnage began again, with machine guns and bayonet fighting. Everything was back to normal.”

Citation: Stuart Briscoe, “Christmas 365 Days a Year,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 135.

Why didn’t something that seems as powerful and wonderful as the Christmas spirit does last longer than 24 hours? Why didn’t the German and English soldiers get up and play soccer again on December 26th?

Our inadequate ideas about the spirit of Christmas are part of the problem.

1. We often condense the spirit of Christmas into warm fuzzy feelings. Listen to these words from “Christmas Time” (Written by Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance).

We waited all through the year

for the day to appear

when we could be together in harmony

You know the time will come

peace on earth for everyone

and we can live forever in a world where we are free

let it shine for you and me

There’s something about Christmas time

something about Christmas time

that makes you wish it was Christmas everyday

To see the joy in the children’s eyes

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