Summary: Christmas has become a very self centered time. Let’s focus back on Christ! Here is a sermon addressing the call to adore and praise Christ.
Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever-- holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 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 for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (NIV)
Two young newlyweds were preparing to enjoy their first Christmas dinner together in their new home. The wife was preparing a baked ham. After unwrapping the meat and setting it on the cutting board, the wife chopped off both ends of the ham with a knife and tossed the two small ends in the garbage can.
"Wait a minute," said the mystified husband. "Why did you do that? Why did you just cut off the ends of the ham and throw them away?"
"I don’t know. Every year my father would cook this wonderful holiday ham, and that’s what he always did," answered the wife. "Maybe it helps bring out the flavor."
Unsatisfied with this answer, the husband called his father-in-law. "Can you tell me why you cut the two ends off a ham before you cook it?"
"Well," said the father, "I’m not really sure why. That’s just the way my mother did her ham, and it was always delicious."
As soon as he hung up he called his wife’s grandmother. "Grandma, we have an important question for you. Can you tell us why you cut the ends off a ham before you cook it?"
"Oh, my yes, dear," answered Grandma in her quiet, thin voice. "I cut the ends of the ham off so it would fit in my pan."
Traditions shape our lives, but it’s important to know why we do them. "Because we’ve always done it that way" doesn’t provide enough meaning to keep our traditions from becoming stale and meaningless.
There is no time of the year more filled with traditions than this time of the year.
How many of you have Christmas trees? Great tradition!
How many of you have traditional decorations, like stockings, wreaths and outside lights?
How many of you, during the holidays, gather the family together, fill up your glass with a traditional beverage, then sit in front of the television set, and watch a traditional holiday game of football????
Traditions are great.
But sometimes, traditions become stale and lose meaning. And they begin to misguide us.
One great holiday tradition is the Christmas parade. According to a recent online edition of the Rocky Mountain News, the city of Denver is preparing for their annual Christmas parade. It’s an event for everyone! There will be floats. There will be bands. There will be Santa Claus. There will be clowns. There will be everything a Christmas parade ought to have.