Summary: Christmas is about: 1. God's availability to us (vs. 8-12 & 15-16). 2. Our adoration for God (vs. 13-14). 3. God's assignment for us (vs. 17-20).
What Christmas Is Really About
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 22, 2013
*I have some fond memories of Christmas as a kid: Like getting the Sears Toy Catalog every fall. By Thanksgiving we had that thing in tatters, completely falling apart. Then there was that sawed-off toy rifle I got in 3rd grade. It was just like the one Steve McQueen had on the "Wanted: Dead or Alive" TV show. Then there was that new bike in the 5th grade, and the chemistry set we used to launch a few rockets. We also use it to start a couple of fires -- (small fires).
*I have quite a few fond memories of Christmas as a kid. But the thing that bothers me is that none of them are connected to the real meaning of Christmas. That's why it's so important for us to have special services like we've had for the last two Sundays, and like we will have tonight.
*People need to know what Christmas is really about. A Pew Survey two weeks ago says only 51% of Americans now see Christmas as a religious holiday. (1)
*People need to know the real meaning of Christmas, and they will find it right here in the Word of God. The shepherds and the angels help us see what Christmas is really about.
1. First: Christmas is about God's availability to us.
*The God of the whole universe is available to us, because He loves ordinary people like me and you. The shepherds in vs. 8-10 remind us that God cares for everyday people like us.
*There they were in verse 8. . . living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."
*The Good News is for ALL people, even people like these lowly shepherds, even people like us.
*Most of us feel a little close to these shepherds. Brian Bill told about another survey that asked people to choose someone in the Christmas story they identified with the most. It wasn't Mary or Joseph or the wise men. The shepherds came out on top by far.
*We relate to the shepherds, because they were ordinary working men. There was nothing special about them. They were even considered to be outcasts in their day. Because of the nature of their work they were unable to attend religious services. Shepherds were isolated and forgotten. Because their flocks needed to move around to find new grass and fresh water, they never stayed in one place for long.
*Shepherds were treated with contempt and mistrust. They were often suspected of stealing from others. And their testimony was never allowed in court because they were so unreliable. (2)
*But when God first sent the greatest message ever sent from heaven, He sent it to a bunch of smelly shepherds. And they remind us that God is available to everyday people like us.
 The God of the whole universe is available to us! -- And He is available to give us His encouragement.
*Listen to how God's angel encouraged the shepherds in vs. 9&10:
9. Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
*I don't know what you might be frightened or fretful about today. But God knows. And I know that God wants to calm your fears. He wants to encourage you today: "Do not be afraid."
 The God of the whole universe is available to give us His encouragement. And best of all, He is available to give us everlasting life.
*God has good news for us! As the angel said in vs. 10, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." Then in vs. 11, it's God's good news of salvation, "For there is born TO YOU a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
*Good news! God loves us in spite of our sins, and came to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Good news! Jesus Christ rose again from the dead!
*But notice that the shepherds had to find Jesus. In vs. 12 the angel said, "This will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." Then in vs. 15&16: