Summary: A brief sermon delivered after a Children's Christmas Pageant (taken from an article in Restoration Herald, December 1996, entitled "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Forrest Hahn)
There was a couple who desperately wanted children. They prayed to the Lord and he gave them 4 children in 4 years. When the children were still 5 years old and younger, they were the stars of the Christmas pageant. Here are the mothers words to describe the production: “My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine. My 5 year old shepherd had practiced his line, ‘We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.’ But he was nervous and said, ‘The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.’ My 4 year old (playing the part of Mary) said, ‘That’s not wrinkled clothes, it’s dirty, rotten clothes.’ A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing. Finally, my other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, ‘We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.’ The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation. ‘I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one,’ laughed the preacher, wiping tears from his eyes. ‘For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur.’”
The title of a Christmas song asks the question, “Do you hear what I hear?” I believe this is a good question because many of us can’t hear what is really being said at Christmas.
There’s conversation in the Peanuts comic strip between Peppermint Patty and her friend Marcie. They are walking to school and Peppermint Patty says, “I’m going to ask the teacher if I can be Mary in the Christmas play this year.” Marcie answers, “She already asked me, sir.” Patty continues, “I think I’ll be great in the part.” Marcie says again, “She asked me yesterday.” Ignoring her, Patty declares, “I really like the part where the angel Gabriel talks to me.” Exasperated, Marcie says, “Why would Gabriel talk to you? You never listen!”
Ronnie Freeman’s song, God Speaking: Have you ever heard a love song that Set your spirit free Have you ever watched a sunrise and Felt you could not breathe What if it's Him What if it's God speaking Chorus: Who knows how He'll get a hold of us Get our attention to prove He is enough He'll do and He'll use Whatever He wants to To tell us "I love you" His ways are higher His ways are better Though sometimes strange What could be stranger Than God in a manger What if it’s God speaking?
It just may be that at Christmas, God is speaking louder than at any other time of the year. Trouble is, it’s so hard to hear Him above the sound of cash registers and exchange lines. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and the opportunity this time of the year affords, but I hope that I never get comfortable with a culture that embraces a material Christmas but refuses to hold close the child on whom the holiday rests.
The tragedy is that if He’s not heard at Christmas, when will He be heard? Few would argue that a newborn child is the most precious gift that we can hold on earth. Taking into account that this is God’s Son we are beholding and we’ve got God saying quite a bit.
At Christmas God is shouting. If He can’t get people’s attention when He’s shouting, because they are too busy to listen, when will he be able to get their attention?
Not saying He doesn’t speak in the other seasons and in other ways. I am saying that one of the most dramatic events God ever worked in our history occurred at what we call Christmas, and we dare not miss it. The way we hear God, at Christmas or any other time, is the same way we cross a railroad track.
Thesis: Stop, look, and listen
Stop the schedules that allow no time for reflection.
There's a story about a North American businessman who was traveling Africa with the help of a guide and several others who were carrying goods. He had a deadline to make, business to do, so in the first three days of their trek through the jungle, he pressed his guide to keep everyone moving. On the third day, however, the businessman was confused and irritated when his hired workers refused to move. The guide tried to explain. "The men have been running so fast for three days. They will now wait until their souls catch up with them."
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” Psalms 143:5, NIV.