Summary: This sermon emphasizes the angels’ announcement to the shephards of good news of great joy by looking at why we need the good news, what is the good news, and how can we enjoy this joy this Christmas.
This past Thanksgiving my family and I headed North to spend the holiday with my family in Kentucky. As we were there, on the day after Thanksgiving, my wife and my sister went to do the usual holiday routine of shopping at the various stores. Now I’ve never been shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, I’m always on the couch with the left over turkey, but I understand that it can get pretty mean and ugly out there. And it did that day. As my wife went to Wal-mart, an employee in the toy section told them about an incident that had happened that morning. When the doors opened, the people rushed into the stores and when they got to the toy section, two women grabbed for the same toy. It was a pink big wheel and it was the last one. In the holiday spirit I guess, the two women began to cat fight right there in the aisle. Boxes were being thrown, hair pulled, the whole works. Unfortunately, there husbands was nearby. When they came to the rescue each man decided to stand up for his woman and the two men began to duke it out right there in the aisle. What a way to kick off the holiday season. Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
For many persons, Christmas is a time of rejoicing, a time of celebration. The family gets together and laughs about old times; gifts are exchanged, and it is for some truly the most wonderful time of the year. Yet at the same time, for others…Christmas is anything but joyous. We all have heard the statistics. More suicides happen in the holiday season than any other season. More alcohol is consumed in the month of December than any other month of the year. Christmas can be and is the most emotionally trying time of the year. Perhaps you’ve decided not to come home for Christmas this year and now your mother is mad and your upset because you feel like you’ve let her down.
I read about a man this week who for him this will be only his second Christmas after splitting up with his wife, and his first without his children--his wife gets them this year. And when he tries to make holiday plans he just gets depressed. I had a friend who I grew up next door to me whose family spent the holidays drunk, and his memories of Christmas are anything but jolly. Maybe, just maybe you have all your family coming in for the holiday season and you don’t know how your going to feed and sleep them? In the movie Christmas Vacation, when Clark Griswold tells his dad how frustrating Christmas is and then asks him how he managed to keep his sanity during all the other Christmas’, and his dad responds by saying, “I had a little help from Jack Daniels.” Now I’m not advocating alcohol, just trying to show you that for some Christmas is a difficult time of year.
Yet no matter the amount of discord you may experience at Christmas, there is still available an overriding sense of joy despite all the pain and difficulties you may be facing. Consider those involved in the Christmas story itself: Joseph finds out that his fiancé is pregnant and he begins to contemplate divorce; yet when the angel confirms in a dream the truth about Mary’s baby, Joseph rejoices. Mary herself is pregnant out of wedlock, no doubt the brunt of public ridicule ; then in her 9th month of pregnancy she is forced to travel 70 miles on a donkey, and yet when she holds her child who is the Son of God, she rejoices. Luke 2:10 says, “But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
The message of Christmas is good news, it is news that is worth rejoicing over. Today a Savior has been born to you. Now you may not feel like rejoicing this morning, that’s fine. I hope we can still minister to you, but the message of Christmas is filled with such hope and such wonder, it’s simply hard not to be joyful and I hope to impute some of that joy to you this morning. This message of joy is a message that is much needed in our day.
Let’s look at why it is that we need this gift of joy. The first reason is simply the anxieties of life. Let me ask you, are you worried? Are you anxious? I seems that our lives are so hectic, especially this time of year, and there are so many different worries bearing down on us from every angle. How are you going to pay for Christmas this year? How can we keep everybody happy? Is this the right gift? But all these are minute worries compared to the ones we face on a greater scale. The threat of war hangs over our country, the world’s no longer a safe place. The world’s second largest airliner declares bankruptcy, the economy’s not what it used to be. Will my retirement still be there when I retire? Just how many more Christmas’ do I have left, I’m not getting any younger. All these worries can weigh us down and depress us.