Summary: People are preparing for Christmas. It may be a secular holiday, rather than a holi day... but God can use the signs of the season to help us initiate conversations. The Holy Spirit can use the sign of the Christmas tree to create an interest and bring
In Jesus Holy Name December 12, 2007
Mid Week Advent II Redeemer
“Signs along the Way”
The signs of Christmas are all around. The shopping malls are full. Your neighborhood has homes decorated with Santa’s and Reindeer, and snow men and maybe a manger scene. Some cities decorate their light poles to look like giant candy canes.
Just this week I heard on the news that Christmas trees were hard to find in Germany. Why? Because German Christmas tree farms are having a bumper year, shipping refrigerated cargo containers full of Christmas trees to China. Buying and decorating a Christmas tree in China is the new sign of economic prosperity. It’s wonderful to see the sign of Christmas spreading across the globe.
Yes, the Christmas tree boom in China does sound the message of commercialism rather than a sign of the “reason for the season.” It would be easy to complain about the commercialization of Christmas with all the secular trimmings. All these signs of the season, including the secular ones can be helpful.
Think about this for a moment. In a country like China, where Christianity is not welcomed and Christians are persecuted, you find a symbol of Christmas. You have financially successful people buying Christmas trees as the new status symbol of success.
Now if you are the “new rich” in China and you want to know about “Christmas Trees” and how to decorate one what do you do? Well, you get out your computer, they obviously have one. You type in Wikipedia, the free dictionary on line, type “Christmas Tree” in on the “search” line and this is what you will read.
“A Christmas Tree. A Yule tree is one of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas. It is normally an evergreen.” The very second word that is highlighted is the word Christmas. Well, if you just purchased your first Christmas tree as a sign of your new status, then you will want to know a little more about Christmas. In America it is a national holiday. It used to be a holi day. But now it, just a holiday.
Back to my story. As an interested educated seeker in China, you’ll want to know what Christmas means. When you click on the word Christmas this is what Wikipedia will tell you. “Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus.”
The natural question ….”who is Jesus? Why are we putting up trees for this man’s birthday?” So an inquisitive mind will click on “Jesus”. “Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure in Christianity.” The main source of information regarding Jesus’ life and teachings are the four gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Other words will also be highlighted… John the Baptist, Jerusalem, crucified, Pontius Pilate, resurrected, God incarnate; are all highlighted.
There will be those in China, who because of the purchase of a western symbol of success, a simple Christmas tree, will become Christians. The Holy Spirit will create the curiosity, then call to faith the seeker who simply wanted a Christmas tree. Some will feel the tug of the Savior on their heart and believe.
Christmas is coming. It’s right around the corner. Have you had any conversations about Christmas? You know how they go… “Got all your shopping done?” “Do you have your tree up?” People will give you all kinds of answers. They don’t want to talk about the tree, or their shopping list. They want to talk about their frustrations, their busy and full days. What will you do with the conversation?
1) Listen. 2) Really? 3)Then ask a question….”What does Christmas mean to you? 4) let them answer. 5) did you know Christmas was about Jesus? It is because of Jesus that I have security about my eternal destiny. See where the conversation goes.
If God can use a Christmas tree to draw a human heart to the truth of Christmas…the holi day we celebrate… he can use a simple conversation.
This week I received an e mail out of the blue. It began: “Pastor Eisberg, I am assuming there could only be one Clarence Eisberg who is a Lutheran Minister. You may not remember me after all these years, but I most definitely remember you. My name is Katie (Hancock-Abbott) and I attended your church (St. Paul’s) in 1991-1992. I still remember you son Aaron, my classmate inviting me to attend services at your church. ….we had never attended regularly until then. I was baptized and confirmed by you and you provided me with a solid religious foundation….. anyway, I wanted to thank you…
Folks…it was a simple conversation, a simple invitation.
Use the signs of Christmas to enter into conversations, let the signs point people to Jesus.