Sermons

Summary: The meaning of Christmas is often lost in our secular celebrations.

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INTRODUCTION

A. Where did the celebration come from

1. Origin of the festival is unknown

2. Derived in part from rites held by German and Celtic people to celebrate the winter solstice

3. Christmas festivals have been observed by Christians since the 4th century

4. Incorporate, as many of our other celebrations, pagan customs such as the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs

5. Use of Christmas tree began in France in earth 17th century and spread to Germany and then northern Europe, then Great Britain and finally U. S.

6. Dutch brought to the U. S. the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6 and St. Nicholas’ Eve when gifts were given to children (British took over this as part of their Christmas Eve celebration)

B. What does Christmas mean now

1. Time for stores to make more money than they do at any other time

2. Time for stores to lower prices to encourage shoppers to spend

3. Time to get off work ( in a Christmas Carol, Scrooge shows his disdain over giving Bob Cratchet a day off and having to pay him for no work) (my brother’s plant closes for 2 weeks during Christmas)

4. Time for families to get together (getting more difficult as families scatter, this will be our first year in many years that all our family will not be together)

5. Time to help the poor and needy

6. Time to be good so Santa will bring you presents

7. Time to go in debt (my grandmother used to charge so much that it would take her the entire next year to pay it off)

8. Time for vacation and travel

C. What Christmas means for Christians

1. We have mixed the sacred with the secular

2. Some noting the pagan background for the celebration choose not to decorate (some I went to college with did this)

3. Many of our holidays have pagan backgrounds

4. We get caught up in the hoopla

5. It becomes about Santa Claus, getting presents, shopping, spending money, being good

6. Also focus on helping and the birth of Christ (probably was not born in winter since shepherds were in the field)

7. Celebrate more than his birth-his life, death and resurrection (his birth alone would not have helped humanity with our sin problem)

D. Story of wise men is familiar

1. It too is mixed with tradition (that they were kings and that there were three of them and that they came when Jesus was in the manger)

2. There was an expectation throughout the world of a coming redeemer

3. Eastern magi (variously considered as magicians, astrologers or sages)

4. Magi carries the meaning of greatness

5. Originally a priestly caste among the Medes and later recognized as teachers of religion and science among the Medo-Persians with special interest in astrology and medicine

6. Bringing gifts for a king was normal

E. To be wise we must recapture the true meaning of Christmas

1. Don’t you sometimes think after Christmas is over or during all the hoopla that this is not what it’s all about?

2. We are not often wise in our celebration of Christmas

3. It’s like the Lord’s Supper-we just tack our emphasis of Christ’s birth on at the end

4. Wise men were wise because of what they did with their knowledge


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