Summary: Have we done more to prepare for the celebration of a past event (Christmas) than we have to prepare for His future coming? A message for Christmas Eve.
Everyone stand – because it’s participation time!
Holding up the appropriate number of fingers, communicate with your partner:
Christmas is tomorrow. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most and 1 being the least, how prepared are you for Christmas?
Sometimes Christmas preparations can really wear us out. So on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being total exhaustion, and 10 being fully energized, where’s your energy level as you enter the Christmas holiday?
Question #3 – If Santa were to rate you this Christmas as to whether you have been a good girl or boy, with 10 being an angelic little darling and 1 being a rotten little devil, where would you rate?
And #4 – Tell your partner out loud, how many times do you think you have uttered the words, “Merry Christmas,” in the past 10 days?
OK. You can be seated.
Last week we took at look at Christmas using the first book of the Bible. This morning we’re going to use the last book – the book of Revelation to gain some perspective on the birth of Jesus. The text is Revelation 22.
It’s tough to miss Christmas if you live in America today. Just about anyone with a pulse can tell you what time of year it is.
We hear the ads on the radio and TV, see the lighted houses and buildings, the decorated yards in our neighborhoods, the displays inside every store make sure we don’t forget, and even the banners at that scroll across the top of the Internet search engines are there to remind us Christmas is coming in case we’ve missed all the other signs.
The clues many times are there to tell us simply – be prepared. Don’t get caught without just the right gift – the right decorations – the right treats and goodies – the right wardrobe accessories.
But what amazes me about all the hype and fanfare leading up to Christmas today is the pardoxical picture it paints when set alongside the world of Christmas Eve a little over 2000 years ago.
Who, do you think was fully prepared for Christmas #1? Were the stores that day full of last-minute shoppers in search of holiday gifts? Were the huts and houses decked out with twinkling décor? Were the theaters and houses of worship offering special shows and musicals? Did anxious children find it hard to sleep that night? My guess is the answer to all the above is “No.”
But the first Christmas was not without its own signals and signs dating back a few centuries. The prophets had predicted a coming Savior, the Messiah, who would be born of a virgin, from the ancestral line of David, born in Bethlehem – all Jews, even the marginally religious – had known such things from the time they were toddlers.
And yet on the eve of the very first Christmas business pretty much went along as usual for most. People came home from work and cleaned up for dinner. Children played in the dusty streets until time for bed. Spouses rolled over and gave good night kisses before turning out the light. Ho-hum, life goes on.
Except, perhaps, for those who still had yet to comply with that crazy census. The one Caesar had ordered. For those who still needed to register, their minds were occupied with getting to their home-town, if they didn’t still live in it, filling out the necessary documents and going home. One young couple arrived in Bethlehem on just such a mission.
Jesus was born, placed in manger
Who really knew?
Apparently, no one. An angel woke up some shepherds to tell them news.
Some wise men were intrigued by a strange star and followed it.
But apart from these unlikely guests at the manger, no one else really seemed to notice Christmas #1. Jesus came, and though many had been waiting for him, few noticed his arrival.
The first Christmas might have been easy to miss. But the subsequent ones in our lifetimes are practically impossible to overlook.
And Jesus said he’s coming again. Revelation 22. He said it’s soon.
Behold, I am coming soon! (Revelation 22:7, 12)
Yes, I am coming soon! (Revelation 22:20)
Here’s a question I pose to you today: Have we done more to prepare for the celebration of a past event than we have to prepare for His future coming?
In other words do our efforts to observe and remember his first coming surpass our attention to the details of being ready for Him to come again?
The stakes are much higher for this preparation.
Some of us might have a better idea of how to prepare for a great Christmas celebration than we do for how to prepare for Him to suddenly appear today. After all, Christmas preparations, if you boil them down, are pretty basic: decorate, purchase and wrap the gifts, make plans with the family, attend a church service, cook or cater, clean up. I know there are many other exciting nuances that make Christmas far more elaborate and far more busy. But really, you and I would essentially be ready for Christmas if we just gave attention to those things. And even if we’re not ready, Christmas is still going to come.