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Summary: A look at the original sights and sounds of Christmas to remind us that our cultural conceptions of Christmas tend to be faulty.

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SPECIAL DAY: CHRISTMAS

TEXT: LUKE 2:1-20 (Don’t read yet)

TITLE: “THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS”

INTRODUCTION: A. Steve Malone relates a parody of Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, that really

underscores just how far our world has let the true meaning of Christmas slip away

from them:

--"And there were in the same country children keeping watch over there stockings by

the fireplace. And lo! Santa Claus came upon them, and they were sore afraid. And

Santa said unto them `Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy

that is for all people who can afford them. For unto you will be given great feasts of

turkey, dressing and cake; and many presents; and this shall be a sign unto you, ye

shall find the presents, wrapped in bright paper, lying beneath a tree adorned with

tinsel, colored balls and lights. And suddenly, there will be with you a multitude of

relatives and friends, praising you and saying, `thank you so much, it was just what

I wanted’ And it shall come to pass as the friends and relatives have gone their

away to their own homes, the parents shall say to one another, What a mess to clean

up! I’m tired, let’s go to bed and pick it up tomorrow. Thank goodness, Christmas

only comes once a year!’ And they go with haste to their cold bed and find their

desired rest."

B. What do you think about when you hear the word “Christmas”?

1. How many shopping days you have left?

2. Family gatherings?

3. Salvation Army bell-ringers?

4. What you’re going to give?

5. What you’re going to get?

6. How much food you have to cook?

7. How much food you’re going to eat?

8. Christmas trees?

9. Decorated houses?

10. Snow?

11. Santa Claus?

12. Frosty the Snowman?

13. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?

14. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer?

C. In the hyper busyness of the season, do we focus on everything but the reason for the

season?

1. There was a haunting newspaper story several years ago about a wealthy Boston

family who had a party for their new-born baby. They invited all their friends and

relatives to their magnificent home to celebrate the birth of their precious infant.

Half an hour into the party, when it was time to bring the baby out for everyone

to see, the mother made a tragic discovery. The large bed where she had left the

baby sleeping was piled high with the winter coats of the guests. The baby was

lying dead underneath the mound of outer coverings, suffocated by everyone’s

carelessly discarded coats.

2. That terrible event almost perfectly illustrates what the world has done to

Christmas

--So many have forgotten that Christmas is first of all a celebration of the birth of

the Savior

3. Our word “Christmas” is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass”

--a worship service honoring the birth of Christ.

D. What sights and sound do you focus on at Christmas time?

1. Does the evergreen tree remind you of the eternality of Christ?

2. Do the many lights remind you of the Light of the World?

3. Do the nativity scenes remind you of the greatest gift ever given and the new birth

that God offers to all?

4. Are your favorite Christmas songs Joy To The Word? O Little Town of

Bethlehem? Silent Night?

D. Let’s look at how Luke records the very first Christmas and see its sights and hear its

sounds to know the real thrill of Christmas!

--Read Text: Lk. 2:1-20

I. THE EMPEROR’S EDICT

A. The emperor was Caesar Augustus

1. Real name: Caius Octavius

2. The nephew, adopted son, and successor of Julius Caesar

B. Edict – “a census should be taken of the entire Roman world”

--The Romans took a census every fourteen years for two primary reasons

1. Draft

a. Told the Roman government how many able-bodied men of draft age were available

b. However, Jewish men were exempt from the draft

2. Taxation

a. The census was also designed to discover the number of a given population who were able to

contribute to the coffers of Rome and what figure they could use to project revenue for government

projects.

b. I never met anyone who truly enjoyed paying taxes.

--Most people, in fact, have some pretty derogatory thoughts toward paying taxes and even the

people who collect them.

(1). I saw a bumper sticker one time that said: “The IRS: We’ve got what it takes to take what

you’ve got.”

(2). I read about a man who computed his taxes for 1998 and found that he owed the IRS $3,407.00.

He packaged up his return and his payment and included this letter:

Dear IRS:

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