Summary: A message to be preached after Christmas. I preached it on Dec. 28th last year.
THE AFTER CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
INTRO: Thomas Tusser wrote, “Christmas comes but once a year, and with it comes the glitter and gaiety of the Christmas spirit. But what of the day after Christmas, when the presents all have gone from under the tree, the festivities have ended, and the family has dispersed for another year? What then?”
Perhaps the account of the Judean shepherds can provide a clue about what the after-Christmas spirit ought to be.
I. THE AFTER-CHRISTMAS SPIRIT INCLUDES PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTMAS.
The music hushed and its echoes died out on the first Christmas night. The light faded. Stillness descended again on Judea’s hills. What did the shepherds do then?
Suppose they had only settled down around their fires and talked about the angels’ message, even quarreled over different interpretations of it, but never went to see about Jesus! Years later one of them, then an old man, might have told the most wonderful story ever told in this way.
ILLUS: “A long time ago, when I was little more than a boy, I was out in the hills one night with some other shepherds, keeping watch over the flocks. Without warning, the angel of the Lord appeared to us, and the glory of the Lord shone around us. We were terrified, but the angel said: ‘Do not be afraid I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign unto you: You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’. Suddenly several other angels joined him and they sang. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”
His story would have ended there. The old man would not have been able to say anything else. Impatient hearers might have demanded: “Is that all? Was the Christ child really born? Did God come down to live among men in the form of a little baby boy?”
But the aged shepherd would have had to shake his white head sadly and sigh. “I do not know. Some insist it is all true, that they themselves went and saw him. Others say it is all a myth. But I can never be quite sure, because I never went to see for myself.”
This Christmas, sermons without number have been preached to celebrate Bethlehem’s babe. What did people do? Did they check Him out and decide whether or not the story is true? Or did they just settle down around their routine campfire to wonder about the truthfulness and talk over the technicalities of the Christmas message?
II. THE AFTER-CHRISTMAS SPIRIT INCLUDES PROMPT EVANGELIZATION.
Every Christmas Christians sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” (Some have recently changed it to “Silent Night, Winter Night.”) That is only half true. Holy it was, but far from silent. God Himself spoke that night. Jesus Christ was His finest, fullest, and final Word to humankind (John 1:1-2; Hebrews 1:1-2).
The angel of the Lord spoke to the surprised shepherds, and singing shattered the silence of the night as a multitude of the heavenly host burst forth into praise. Finally, when they had been to see Jesus for themselves, the shepherds returned “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20).
Silent night? Hardly! The air waves crackled with the good news that the manger in Bethlehem cradled the King!
Two thousand years later, some still have not heard the Christmas message. Many who have heard it do not understand it, or else the message they have heard has become so garbled that it bears little resemblance to the original gospel. The after-Christmas spirit moves people who have been to Christ to tell others clearly and without distortion how they, too, can find him.
There is a Christmas song we like to sing that tells us what we are to do. It says:
“Go, tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere;
“Go, tell it on the mountain, That Jesus Christ is born!”
CONC: May the after-Christmas spirit this year bring you to meet Jesus personally and then send you out to bring others to Him!