Summary: Sermon #2 for a Christmas series entitled Shopping for a Savior.
“SHOPPING FOR A SAVIOR”
SERMON #2: “IT’S TOO CROWDED”
It was the fall heard around the world. A mob of Wal-Mart shoppers rushing for a $29 DVD player trampled Patricia Van Lester and knocked her unconscious on Friday, November 28, 2003 the day after Thanksgiving. Her sister, Linda Ellzey watched, “She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants. I told them, ‘Stop stepping on my sister! She’s on the ground!’”
Crowds are synonymous with Christmas. Haven’t you noticed? The Malls are packed, the check out lines wind around forever, the roads are crammed with cars, airports are jammed, even churches have a few more people than normal. Even our homes are teeming with additional decorations, parties, and activities.
The problem with crowds at Christmas is that they tend to trample Jesus, just like the mob of shoppers that trampled Patricia Van Lester. We get so involved in the shopping that we miss the Savior. We are so busy with travel that Jesus is left home alone. We slide into a seat at church that is not our usual place because someone else is sitting in our place and we don’t focus on Jesus because we are angry with that unfamiliar pew occupant. We are in such a hurry at Christmas that we aren’t living well; our souls are in need of a break, if not intensive care.
Richard Foster wrote in his book Celebration of Discipline, “In contemporary society our Adversary (Satan) majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.” At no time of the year is this observation a greater reality. Could it be that the crowds, the shopping, the relentless bell ringing and music playing, the increased numbers of activities, the fast-paced lifestyles are simply a ploy of Satan to keep us from the Savior? To keep us from truly remembering what Christmas is about?
Many years ago a very wealthy European family held a christening for their child. Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion. They arrived in their big cars wearing the high style fashions. Their jackets and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds. After hors d’oeuvres and the usual lot of conversation and commotion, they were ready for the christening ceremony.
“Where’s the baby?” someone asked. The nanny ran upstairs to look. She returned several minutes later. The baby was nowhere to be found. Someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic investigation the little child was found smothered under the coats and jackets of the guests. The chief reason why they had come had been forgotten, neglected, and destroyed.
Crowds and clamor have a tendency to smother Jesus at Christmas. He, more often than not, is forgotten, neglected, and if we aren’t careful, destroyed.
Read Luke 2:8-15
We see in this passage of scripture that after Jesus was born God sent a birth announcement out about the birth of His Son and what we see is that some received the announcement but others didn’t.
1. WHO DIDN’T RECEIVE THE MESSAGE?
The first Christmas, in some respects, was a lot like Christmas today. The tiny village of Bethlehem was crowded. People were stirring everywhere. People were probably sleeping on the streets, in alleys, or anywhere else they could find a spot. The merchants were up earlier than usual waiting for the influx of visitors to purchase their goods. The barking of street dogs and the complaint of donkeys pulling carts awakened children.
The owner of the inn had awakened earlier than most in the town. His inn was full. All the beds were taken. People were everywhere, on mats, in chairs, curled up in every corner.
The crowds and the shouts hushed the cry of baby Jesus born outside the inn probably in a cave, placed in a manager, normally reserved for sheep, for a bed. Baby Jesus was wrapped in strips of clothing to keep him warm.
And, God, the proud father, sent out a birth announcement like none other. And it should be like none other because never before had God taken on human flesh. The awe-inspiring God was now living in human flesh. This child, God in the flesh, would change the world.
The citizens of Bethlehem did not hear the announcement of the baby. The tiny town was too jam-packed, too noisy, too consumed, too preoccupied. The mayor of Bethlehem didn’t get the announcement. The High Priest in Jerusalem was left out of the loop. So, too, were Caesar Augustus and the members of his Royal court. None of the officials, none of the power brokers received the announcement.
The palace didn’t hear, the temple didn’t hear, Jerusalem didn’t hear, Bethlehem didn’t hear. Why? Because it was too crowded, too busy, too noisy, the people were too self-absorbed. But there was a group that night that did receive God’s birth announcement.