Summary: We need to slow down and remember the reason for the season

The Yellow Light

This is the time of year when everyone starts getting ready for Christmas. The stores have the trees and Christmas decorations on display. They’re running sales trying to encourage all of us to spend, spend, spend. Elevators are filled with all of the instrumental Christmas favorites.

Oh, wait a minute, I’m sorry, I was supposed to preach this sermon back in October!

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Regardless of the retail industry implications that the Christmas season starts in October, today is the OFFICIAL start of our preparations for Christmas, the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

What do you do to prepare for Christmas? In these next four weeks, what are your plans? What will you be focusing on? How many dozens of cookies you need to bake? Buying presents? Sending Christmas cards? Buying more presents? Decorating the tree? Wrapping the presents you’ve bought? Singing Christmas carols? Planning the Christmas feast? Buying more presents? Cleaning the house? Buying more presents? What Christmas parties to attend?

Most of you drive, so you know all about traffic signals. You know that green means go, red means stop. What does yellow mean? If you’re thinking, “I know what yellow means. It means step on it to get through the intersection before the light turns red”, then we need to talk!

A young child was having trouble keeping up in school. He worked really hard to keep up with the others in his classroom, but because of his unique challenges, he kept falling behind. As a result, his backpack was crammed full with homework every night. There was no letup. He no longer could play outside with his friends after school. By the time he had made a swipe at all his schoolwork, it was time for bed. The parents consulted with the elementary school guidance counselor and decided that their son needed to be placed with a class of slower learners. It quickly became apparent that the right decision had been made. The third grader got his childhood back, complete with after-school play; a more positive outlook, and grades that matched the front end of the alphabet.

After several weeks of asking his dad if they could play together after dinner, he grew weary of the same response: "I’m sorry, buddy, I have a briefcase full of work I have to do." One day he simply said, "Well, Dad, can’t they just put you in a slower class too?"

Friends, if we’re going to keep from missing Christmas . . . we’re going to have to get into a slower class. We’re going to have to heed the yellow light and SLOW DOWN! We’re too busy hurrying through intersections. And you know what’s going to happen. One of these days, BAM, we’re going to get nailed by someone else who’s in a hurry, too.

Granted, a good many of our commitments are important. Much of what we do is necessary. We find time for recreation, for shopping, for other things we want to do. We must be intentional about making time for God. We plan to find time to hear from God. We need to heed the yellow light.

For most people, Advent is when the Nativity comes out. And with it disagreements about how the figures are to be arranged.

Billy and his brother Bobby were having an argument about how the figures in the nativity should be arranged. Billy, who was older, was trying to impress upon Bobby that everybody needs to be in a straight line in front of Jesus. Of course Bobby argued that was wrong. He said, “They need to be in a circle around him.”

This went on for a while, with each taking his turn explaining his reasoning while rearranging the figures. Finally Bobby had had enough. He said with a voice full of conviction, “Billy, everyone needs to be in a circle around baby Jesus so they can ALL see him. HE IS THE LORD!”

Where is our focus this Advent? Are we standing in a circle so we can ALL have a clear view of Jesus? Or are we standing in lines . . . . buying stuff? Are we focusing on Jesus? Or are we focusing on cookies, carols, and presents from Santa?

Illustration: In a B.C. Comic strip: One ant said, "Dad, who is Jesus?" The father ant replied, "He’s the reason for the season. The next panel says, "But Dad I thought Santa Claus was the reason. And the father ant replies, "He is-if you prefer GameBoy Advance instead of everlasting life."

In the Christmas display window of one of the largest department stores in San Francisco are the following words: What is Christmas? Christmas is: wide-eyed children; fairyland magic; age-old music; and good will in the hearts of men.

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