Summary: This is a candle lignting service that will help you think about how you respond to Jesus at Christmas.
RESPONSES TO THE FIRST CHRISTMAS—Candle Lighting Service
(Adapted from “A Savior Has Been Born” by Melvin Newland;
sermoncentral.com; page 4 of his list of sermons; Dec. 1996)
( I preached: Dec. 23, 2001)
In the last ten to twenty years and maybe even longer, we have seen a lot of change in how people of this country respond to Christmas. There seems to be more and more avoidance of the use of the name of Christ during the holidays. It is nice or politically correct to say “ Happy Holidays” rather than saying “Merry Christmas”. But it is not just a holiday -- it is CHRISTMAS -- the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a time when we celebrate His coming into this world; God in the flesh; Emmanuel- “God with us”.
Every time we say: “Merry Christmas” we are witnessing to the fact of Jesus’ birth.
How do you respond to Jesus’ birth? Are you politically correct or do you in every way set forth Jesus’ birth?
Today I would like for us to look at the responses to the first Christmas. You probably fit in one of these responses, maybe more.
I. THE RESPONSE OF THE INNKEEPER
Do you know how many times the innkeeper is mentioned in the Bible? Well, that was a trick question. The innkeeper is not mentioned at all. We don’t know for sure that was an innkeeper but since there was an inn we assume that there was an innkeeper. But who was he? What was he like? Here is a poem about the innkeeper:
INNKEEPER, O INNKEEPER
O Innkeeper, O Innkeeper, are you a man of sin
Because you said to Joseph and Mary: “There is no room in the inn”?
Are you a man that is mean spirited, grumpy and weary?
Who slammed the door in the face of Joseph and Mary
Or, are you a kind-hearted man we should console
That was the victim of circumstances out of your control?
Whether you are a villain or a hero
For sure, we will never know.
But I believe your response was that of preoccupation.
I doubt you ever gave them any real consideration.
Never had your inn been so full as on that night.
Never had demands on your time caused you so much plight.
All you wanted was to take care of the guest who had come.
After all, the price they paid added up to a tidy sum.
O Innkeeper, O Innkeeper, you are so much like people today.
They are so busy: they run this way and that way.
They are so busy with all the things of the season
They don’t have a clue about the holiday’s reason.
They are so busy they don’t open their heart to God’s love.
Therefore they never receive the Christmas blessings from God above.
Let it be our prayer that we will not do the same.
Let’s let “opening our hearts to Jesus” be our Christmas aim.
So the innkeeper’s response was preoccupation. Just like so many today are so busy with the activities of the season they don’t have time for Jesus.
II. THE RESPONSE OF THE SHEPHERDS
Shepherds were the lower class of Israel—the rejects of society. Their job was a dirty one; One that kept them away from home for weeks; One that caused them to live in the wilderness (live with the sheep). And God reaches across the barriers of society and tells the shepherds: “I want you to be the first to know: in the city of David, a Savior has been born.”
The shepherds were so afraid their knees were knocking together; but their hearts were leaping with joy as they listened to the angles sing.
Sing Hymn 88: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
So the shepherds were privileged. And if we are honest we will admit that we are privileged too. We are not here because we’re smart and have figured out the prophecies, because we’re so rich, or because we have done something wonderful. We are here because we have the privilege of being born in the right country at the right time, of having heard the gospel preached, of having parents or friends who told us about Jesus.
We are here because we are privileged people just like the shepherds.
IIIL THE RESPONSE OF HEROD
His response was that of fear. History tells us he was so afraid of losing his throne that he killed his favorite wife and three of his sons.
Then the wise men come and ask if he knew anything about the New King. The paranoid fear of Herod reared its ugly head. Herod summoned the religious leaders and asked them if they knew anything about this New King. They said, “Yes the prophets say that He will be born in Bethlehem”. Herod summons the wise men and tells them of Bethlehem and tells them to let him know where the New King is so he can worship him also (secretly planning to kill Him).