Summary: A Christmas sermon describing how Christ can be born into the most difficult of circumstances.
The Coffin and the Christmas Tree
Four years ago my Father-in-Law, Dr. W. C. Dobbs, pastor and professor, passed away. Because his death happened right before Christmas it was the first time that I had ever missed any events of my church’s Christmas season. I missed the Children’s Musical and the Keenager Sunday lunch at our home. Although I did sing in the Christmas choir musical, it was readily apparent that I had missed numerous rehearsals.
At the funeral home, like every other business, there were discreet Christmas trees decorated and placed in appropriate places. None were placed beside the coffin, but one was placed in the same room. I thought, “What an interesting combination…the coffin and the Christmas Tree.
I had the opportunity to do both the Funeral Sermon and the Graveside sermon. Like they say down south, “I really shucked the corn.”
On a number of occasions while we were gone, while we were with family, while we were at the bedside, while we were at the funeral, while we were at the graveside, someone would say, “thank you for being here,” “your presence was much needed here today,” or “your words were a comfort and your message was inspiring.”
In light of missing so much of the church’s Christmas events, I especially appreciated hearing those affirming words.
Of course, in LeAnne’s family the entire group brings Jesus into every good situation or every bad situation; easy or difficult, we bring Jesus. Christ is so evident in LeAnne’s life, in LeAnne’s mother’s life, sister’s life, and brother’s life. Christ is evident in the entire family.
Because Christ was so evident in this situation, I had the thought that even in missing out on some of the Christmas festivities, Christmas occurred with us because Christ was present in LeAnne, in Susie, in Bill, in Mom and, I hoped, in me.
Christ was present to each person in the hospital room. Christ was present to each person at the funeral service. Christ was present to each person at the graveside.
The reason Christ was present is because of the great promise found in Acts 2:17-18.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
Luke was quoting Joel who prophesied a new dispensation.
Jesus said in John 7:38, 39, “Whoever believes in me , and Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
Just as the Prophets foretold the birth of Jesus and the life of Jesus, the prophets also foretold the birth and the life of the Spirit of Jesus…IN EACH ONE OF US.
First Corinthians 3:16 reads, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Jesus’ birth, his life, his teaching, his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension were important. But also important and maybe more important for us is the fact that Jesus promised us that there would be sent a special PRESENCE, and with a special presence would come a special POWER (gifts of the Spirit), and with the PRESENCE would also come a special PERSONALITY (fruits of the Spirit). And this PRESENCE, POWER, AND PERSONALITY OF JESUS would be born in each one of us.
Therefore, leading up to Dad’s funeral, and even during the funeral, I was thinking this through as well as talking to Jesus about it, and I became convinced that where the Spirit of the Lord is…WHERE THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT IS-- there is Christmas, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Christ.
Our lives present moments of great DIFFICULTY, and it is when you arrive into that moment of great difficulty that the presence, personality, and the power of Christ arrive into that moment and THOSE MOMENTS OF GREAT DIFFICULTY BECOME THE ADVENT OF THE CHRIST – for in those moments of sorrow and sadness Christ is born.
We think Christmas is about p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s and parties and pageants, but Christmas is about p-r-e-s-e-n-c-e and power and personality.
When the presence of Christ is birthed into a situation there is Christmas.
Therefore, we can birth Christ into every difficult situation.
I think there are three ways you can do this.
1. Anticipate the difficult. Luke 2:1-7
Let’s take a census this morning. How many things in this story make it a difficult situation?