Summary: Our Christmas in July celebration, celebrating the birth of our savior and the gift of salvation. Can be used for regular Christmas message.
Joy to the World!
Luke 2:9&10 “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all people.’”
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Last Sunday, during announcements, Glenna announced that we would be celebrating our Christmas in July Sunday this week. She jokingly added that “Bro. Dan would be Santa Claus. He is beginning to look like him anyway!” After church, little Gabby came up for me to hold and love on her. When I picked her up, she anxiously asked “Are you going to be Santa Claus next week?” I think she had her Christmas wish list ready!
On that first Christmas, an angel proclaimed “I have Good news of Great Joy for everyone!” Mary and Joseph certainly experienced joy that night. What new parents don’t, holding their first child in their arms. But Mary and Joseph experienced great joy, knowing that this baby that they held was indeed the Son of God. They knew that baby Jesus was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit. They knew of angelic visits. To Mary, the birth of Jesus was more than the birth of a son. It was the birth of her Savior. The coming of the Messiah brought her great joy. She proclaims “Oh, how I praise the Lord, How I REJOICE in God My Savior.”
Throughout Jesus’ life, Mary experienced the joys of motherhood. Like any mother, she watched her child learn to walk and talk. But later, Mary would see her son walking along the Sea of Galilee, as He taught about God. Wouldn’t it have been great hearing Jesus teach and seeing his miracles? But what joy if the one teaching and performing the miracles was your very own son! I believe that memories of that first Christmas night remained with Mary 33 years later as Mary watched Jesus die on the cross. I believe Mary experienced the joy of that first Christmas when Jesus arose from the dead three days later.How Mary must have rejoiced when she saw her resurrected son-her Risen Savior. Mary knew that she too needed a Savior.
The shepherds also experienced great joy on that first Christmas night. Imagine tending sheep
out in the middle of the dark desert. It was a lonely job. It was usually an uneventful job. Except for an occasional bear or lion trying to steal from the flock, nothing eventful ever happened. Just think how you would feel if you were tending sheep in the dark loneliness and suddenly an angel announced “I have good news of great joy!” The angel brought the shepherds news of the long awaited Messiah. These lowly shepherds were the first to hear the news of his birth. What exciting news! And then, the Scriptures tells us that the angel was joined by a VAST host of angels! The New Living Version states “Armies of Heaven” appeared, singing and praising God.The news of Jesus’ birth brought great joy in heaven and on earth Heaven itself rejoiced at the news of the Savior to mankind. Imagine being there with the shepherds -hearing this angelic choir praising God. How awesome it must have been! The shepherds wasted no time. “Let’s get going—let’s go see this wonderful thing!” They leave the fields and took off for Bethlehem. I believe they were almost running-turning as they ran, trying to talk to one another about the great and wondrous news they had received. And when they saw Jesus, they must been filled with Joy—GREAT JOY. They knew the baby lying in the manger was the Messiah, their Savior. Their life was never the same. They returned to the fields, to their flock- their livelihood. But we are told they returned GLORIFYING, and PRAISING GOD because they had experienced the Savior. I am sure that for the rest of their life, while they were in those fields watching their sheep by night, great joy filled their hearts once more as they thought of that holy night and the baby in the manger.
I think of two more people that the news of Jesus’ birth brought great joy on that first Christmas. Simeon was a devout and godly man. He too was longing for the arrival of the Messiah. But Simeon’s longing was so intense that God promised Simeon he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the temple to be dedicated, the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that God’s promise had came true. As Simeon held the baby in his arms, he was filled with great joy. He said, “Now I have everything I need.”
Max Lucado (www.maxlucado.com/read/where.do.I.go/index3.html_ writes of a man named Robert Reed: “I have everything I need for joy!” Robert Reed said. “His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, or comb his hair or put on his underwear. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. Robert has cerebral palsy. The disease keeps him from doing many things… But Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal. He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese…He stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ.” Robert Reed found joy in the Lord “I have everything I need for joy.” he said. Max writes, “His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy.” Simeon found that same joy. “I am ready to die in peace for I have seen the Savior.”