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Summary: This is a Christmas Eve message based on the idea from the Christmas Classic "it's A Wonderful Life".

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IF CHRIST HAD NOT COME

LUKE 2:1-20

A GREAT CHRISTMAS MOVIE CLASSIC HAS BEEN THE JIMMY STEWART MOVIE, “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.” LES AND I WATCH IT EVERY YEAR, AND THE LINE, “TEACHER SAYS, WHENEVER A BELL RINGS, AN ANGEL GETS HIS WINGS”, AND STEWART LOOKS UP AND SAYS “WAY TO GO CLARENCE” IT STILL BRINGS A TEAR TO MY EYES.

LES AND I KNOW MOST OF THE CHRISTMAS CLASSICS SO WELL WE CAN ALMOST RECITE THE DIALOGUE WITH THE ACTORS. WHO CAN FORGET HOW GOOD GEORGE BAILEY WAS, AND HOW WE HATED MR. POTTER.

THE MAIN THEME OF “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” WAS THE DIFFERENCE ONE PERSON CAN MAKE IN THE WORLD. GEORGE BAILEY WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE WHAT THE WORLD WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE HAD HE NOT BEEN BORN.

LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF LIVES STOOD IN THE BALANCE OF THAT ONE MAN’S EXISTENCE. PEOPLE WHO HE HELPED FROM HIS HOME TOWN OF BEDFORD FALLS, PLUS HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE HE WOULD NEVER MEET, ALL OWED THEIR LIVES TO THAT MAN. CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE WORLD WOULD ALL CHANGE EITHER POSITIVELY OR NEGATIVELY, DUE TO THE EXISTENCE OR NON-EXISTENCE OF GEORGE BAILEY.

NOW IT OCCURS TO ME, THAT WE ARE SOMEWHAT IN THE SAME SITUATION TODAY WITH REGARD TO CHRISTMAS. THE COMMERCIALISM OF CHRISTMAS IS ONLY A SYMPTOM OF A MUCH GREATER PROBLEM, AND THAT IS THE SECULARIZATION OF SOCIETY.

YOP CAN CHOOSE IN YOUR OWN HOMES, TO ALLOW OR NOT TO ALLOW CHRISTMAS TO BE INVADED BY COMMERCIALISM. WE CAN CHOOSE TO LIMIT THE COST AND NUMBER OF GIFTS WE SHARE.

IT’S A FAR DIFFERENT MATTER, WHEN WE DEAL WITH THE SECULARIZATION OF SOCIETY. THE SECULARIZATION OF SOCIETY SEEKS TO ELIMINATE ANY CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE IN IT, AND CHRISTMAS WOULD BE ONE OF IT’S MAIN TARGETS.

THE SECULARIZATION OF SOCIETY PUTS US IN THE SAME DILEMMA AS GEORGE BAILEY WAS ALLOWED TO CONSIDER FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. WHAT WOULD THIS WORLD BE LIKE IF CHRIST HAD NOT COME?

SOME CHANGES WOULD BE OBVIOUS, THE MOST NOTICABLE WOULD BE THAT WE WOULD NOT BE HERE TONIGHT. THERE WOULD BE NO NEED TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF JESUS IF IT DID NOT HAPPEN. MOST OF THE MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS WOULD BE GONE. WE MIGHT STILL SHARE IN THE GIVING OF GIFTS BUT ONLY BECAUSE ST. NICHOLAS STARTED THE TRADITION LONG, LONG, AGO.

THERE WOULD BE NO HOLIDAYS IN DECEMBER. SECULARIZATION HAS CREPT IN WITH THEIR WISH OF “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” INSTEAD OF MERRY CHRISTMAS, BUT IF CHRIST HAD NOT COME THERE WOULD BE NO HOLIDAY TO BE “HAPPY”. INDEED FOR MANY PEOPLE THESE HOLIDAYS ARE NOT HAPPY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

THERE WOULD BE NO HOPE FOR ETERNITY, AND EASTER WOULD HAVE NO SIGNIFICANCE. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS FROM THE MEANING OF EASTER. THEY ARE PART OF THE SAME PLAN. IF THEIR HAD BEEN NO BIRTH OF THE SAVIOR, THEN THERE COULD BE NO SACRIFICE ON CALVARY, AND NO RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. IT WOULD MEAN THERE COULD BE NO HOPE FOR US AS THEIR WOULD BE NO CHRISTIANITY.

WHAT A DIFFERENT WORLD THIS WOULD BE IF THERE HAD BEEN NO CHRIST. THERE WOULD BE NO STOPPING OF WARS, EVEN FOR A BRIEF TIME. THERE WOULD BE NO OBJECTIVE STANDARDS FOR SOCIETY. WHAT A CRAZY MIXED UP PLACE THIS WOULD BE, AND UNFORTUNATELY IT SEEMS LIKE SOCIETY IS EMBRACING IT MORE EACH YEAR.

I THANK GOD THAT JESUS DID COME AND THAT WE HAVE A PURPOSE FOR BEING HERE TONIGHT. WHAT A GREAT BURST OF ENCOURAGEMENT, AND CHANGE OF CONDITIONS, THERE WAS WHEN GEORGE BAILEY SAID “I WANT TO LIVE”.

PEOPLE GATHERED AT HIS HOUSE WITH THE UNITED CAUSE OF SHOWING HIM HOW MUCH HE MEANT TO THEM. SOLDIERS ON THE TROOP CARRIER HIS BROTHER SAVED CELEBRATED WITH THEIR FAMILIES BECAUSE GEORGE BAILEY LIVED. EVEN IF BAILEY WAS TO GO TO JAIL, HE WAS EXCITED ABOUT BEING ALIVE.

THE VERY FACT THAT WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IS A REASON FOR HOPE. JESUS SAID “I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.”

JESUS SAID “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.”

MARRIAGES HAVE BEEN SAVED AS PEOPLE HAVE TURNED THEIR LIVES OVER TO CHRIST. WAYWARD TEENS HAVE FOUND THEIR WAY HOME BECAUSE OF CHRIST. PEOPLE WHO HAVE CONSIDERED TAKING THEIR LIVES HAVE HAD LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCES WHEN THEY ENCOUNTERED THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS.

WHEN PEOPLE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS FOR IT’S TRUE MEANING, BLESSINGS AND HAPPINESS ABOUND. WE CAN REJOICE IN THE EXCITEMENT OF THE CHILDREN. WE CAN SHARE WITH THEM IN TENDER MOMENTS THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS.

WE CAN SING THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS, BOTH OLD AND NEW, AND ALLOW THEM TO THRILL OUR HEARTS AND BRING A TEAR OF JOY TO OUR EYES.

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