Summary: A sermon about the blessing of Christ - to go along with our Bethlehem Candle Service- 2nd week of Advent.
Every year in Mesa, Arizona, the Mormon Temple puts on their Christmas display. It is a fantastic sight to see! There must be millions of lights, and the sight of those displays is truly awesome. If you want to go see them, you will spend at least a half hour looking for a place to park, and another hour just walking around the large grounds looking at the many beautiful ways they have arraigned the lights. One Mormon bishop friend of mine told me that they spend tens of thousands of dollars annually on these displays.
Whether it is in the enormity of what we do, or in the things we do for others, I think Christmas has gotten very much out of control. Many homes around each town are decorated to the hilt. Whereas people once decorated to show the Spirit of the Lord at Christmas, now we decorate to outdo one another or to make headlines with who has the most beautiful displays.
We once gave gifts at Christmas out of love, we now seem to give them out of necessity. See, we don’t want anyone to have the wrong impression of us, so we not only give gifts, but we make sure they are more expensive and bigger than the ones we gave them last year.
What would we consider the best gifts we could give to another at Christmas? Let me give you a few hints. The best gift would have nothing to do with money, and it would not have anything to do with the gift we gave last year.
Some great gifts you can give this Christmas are to put your pride aside and mend a quarrel, all because you really do care about that person. Or better yet, give something to somebody – anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Visit someone in a nursing home. Give as God gave to you, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation.
As Christians, we are supposed to be Christ-like. How better to be Christ-like than to do as Christ did? He came to serve, not to be served, and we should also develop that same attitude in our lives, but not just at Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, how would you like to spend this Christmas in Jerusalem? What would we see? I think we would probably see very little, because we would stay indoors to avoid the sporadic gunfire, hatred, and other acts of violence that have been heaped upon the Jews.
The name ‘Jerusalem’ means ‘peace’, but that is the most fought in and fought for city on the face of the earth. It has no major tourist attractions, industrial claims, or seaports that would make it so sought after. I think it is obvious that the only reason for all the violence down through the centuries is because Jerusalem is a city caught in the middle of the spiritual warfare between God and Satan.
Christmas to us has always meant a time to celebrate our religious belief in Christ, but to others around the world, any mention of the Lord turns people towards violence and hatred. But, we can thank our Lord that we live in America.
And as Christians, living in America, we have been blessed with much, haven’t we? Our cup overflows from the goodness of God. It is hard to determine just which blessing is the best.