Summary: The days after Christmas shouldn’t be a let-down for us. They should be a launching point, a glorious beginning in our lives.
Looking Beyond Christmas - Now What?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Dec. 30, 2007
*Looking beyond Christmas: In the Scripture today Jesus is 41 days old, and in vs. 22 His parents have taken Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. While they were there, the Holy Spirit made sure that they crossed paths with a very devoted man named Simeon. Vs. 26-32 tell us that, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.’”
*With this background in mind, let’s read vs. 36-40 to see what happened next.
*Pastor Frank Harrington liked to tell about an uncle who was prone to make some pointed observations. His name was Van, and one of the things Uncle Van used to say was, “There ain’t nothing as over as Christmas.” (1)
*Of course, he was talking about the let-down people often feel. But the days after Christmas shouldn’t be a let-down for us. They should be a launching point. The birth of Christ wasn’t a dismal ending. It was a glorious beginning! And it can be, it should be a glorious beginning in our lives.
1. So as we look beyond Christmas -- Now what? First, stay close to the Lord in every situation.
*This elderly widow named Anna teaches us to stay close to the Lord. Listen again to her life-story in vs. 36-37, Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband 7 years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about 84 years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
*Anna may have been over 100, because vs. 37 may mean that she had been a widow for 84 years. And over her long life, Anna teaches us that we should stay as close to the Lord as possible.
*Stay close to the Lord in every situation -- Even in times of stress and sorrow. Anna knew all about sorrow. She had only been married 7 years when her husband died. Did he get sick and suffer from a lingering illness? Was he killed in a terrible accident? Was he killed by a robber or a Roman soldier?
*However he died, it must have broken Anna’s heart. But Anna did not make the tragic mistake so many people make. Anna did not pull away from God. Vs. 37 tells us that she did not depart from the Temple, and this tells us that Anna stayed as close to the Lord as she possibly could. That’s exactly what we should do -- Even in times of sorrow.
*One of America’s best known Christmas carols is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Our choir will sing it in the 11 o’clock service this morning. The song starts:
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
*But then a surprisingly sad verse:
“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
*Doesn’t that seem odd in a Christmas carol? Longfellow wrote those words late in the Civil War after suffering double tragedy. In July of 1861, Longfellow’s wife, Fanny had trimmed some of their 7-year-old daughter’s curls.
*Mom decided to preserve the curls in sealing wax. But as she melted the wax, a sudden breeze through the window blew her dress into the flame. Fanny’s light dress was immediately engulfed in fire. Attempting to protect their two daughters in the room with her, she ran to Henry’s study in the next room, where he frantically tried to smother the flames with a throw rug. When that didn’t work, Longfellow desperately tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around his wife -- severely burning his face, arms, and hands. She died the next morning. He was too ill from his burns to attend her funeral.