Summary: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we actually started to practice the things that we hear & sing about at Christmas time? (Powerpoints Available - #198)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #198.)
A. Possibly the best known & most beloved passage of Scripture read at Christmas time is the account of the birth of Jesus found in Luke 2:1-20. Let me read just a part of that, vs’s 8-14, as recorded in the New King James Version.
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, & the glory of the Lord shone around them, & they were greatly afraid.
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God & saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, & on earth peace, goodwill to men!’”
ILL. I imagine that almost everyone here this morning is familiar with Charlie Brown in the comic strips. Well, a few years ago it pictured Lucy walking up to Charlie Brown just before Christmas & saying to him, "Charlie Brown, since it is Christmas, I suggest that we lay aside all our differences & be friends for this season of the year."
Charlie Brown says, "That's a great idea, Lucy, but why does it have to be just at this time of the year? Why can't we be friends all year long?"
Lucy looks at him with that look that only Lucy can get & says, "What are you, a fanatic or something?"
B. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we actually started to practice the things that we hear & sing about at Christmas time? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would take Christmas with us all the way through the new year before us?
And when it comes to thinking about how Christmas should affect us, I can’t help but think of the words of the Christmas hymn, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day.”
I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play,
And wild & sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, & mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Yet pealed the bells more loud & deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If all who talk about "peace on earth" during December actually started to practice it & recruited others to practice it, think how different our world would become. If all who talk about "good will to men" suddenly began to be good to the people around them & recruited others to do the same, think how different our world would be.
ILL. Someone has compared Christmas to skydiving. Christmas is like that sense of freedom & excitement you feel when you jump out of an airplane & are free falling through the air. You feel the wind on your face & can see the beauty of God's world for miles around.
But the earth is rushing toward you, so you pull the ripcord. Your parachute jerks open, & soon you hit the ground with a jolt. For a few brief moments you felt a wonderful exhilaration & then "plop." You are on the ground, facing reality once again, back to the humdrum of everyday life.
C. Is that what has happened with Christmas? Christmas is wonderful, & then "plop," it is face to face with reality once again?
What about the shepherds who heard the angels & saw the baby Jesus? Did that Christmas make any difference in their lives? And what about the wise men who came to worship, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh? I’m convinced that once they saw Jesus, their lives were never quite the same again.
I. JESUS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE HOME
A. Certainly, life was never the same again for Mary & Joseph. They now had a baby to take care of, & their lives were changed forever.
ILL. I remember when Patty, our first child was born. I looked at her tiny little face & realized that I shared the responsibility of molding & forming her personality & guiding her to be what God wanted her to be. What an awesome responsibility!