Summary: Christmas is more than gifts.
What Do You Do for Christmas?
What is Christmas – Part 1
I have entitled my sermon “What Do You Do for Christmas?”. This will be a question that every one of us will receive during this holiday season. You and I as Christians need to be prepared to answer this question. I submit to you that we can answer this question and help other learn the true meaning of Christmas – the fact that there is a God and He has sent His Son Jesus and that we need Jesus.
As we come closer to Christmas time, many people are making plans. They ask the question: “What will I do for Christmas?” Most people who ask this question answer it with a couple of answers like this:
I am going to go home to see my parents.
We are going to have Christmas dinner with some friends.
My husband is getting off work and so we plan to spend Christmas together.
My children are in town and so we will get together.
Answers usually don’t get much deeper than this. People have the expectation that at Christmas, what we do is spend time with family and friends. We celebrate what we think is Christmas by giving gifts to one another. You may hear it said this way:
I can’t wait to see what Santa will give me under the tree this year.
I wonder what gifts I will get from my husband or wife.
I wonder how we are going to pay for the gifts that we just bought for everyone.
Is this Christmas? Is this what is expected out of what we call the holiday season. This is interesting because the word holiday is an Old English word that means holy day. So our language defines what Christmas is, but we have changed the meaning. What should you and I be doing for Christmas? Is it more than just giving gifts (or expecting gifts?) Is it more than spending time and money going places so that we can say that we visited important people? Is this Christmas?
I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, while I think it is good to visit family and friends and give and receive gifts, I believe Christmas is much more. We are acting in the imitation of the substance of Christmas. Here is a bottle of Dr. Pepper. This is a drink from Texas. This is the real thing.
I mean the real thing because it is the original non-fruit flavored soft drink. Soft drinks were called soft because they did not contain alcohol. You may have thought that Coca-Cola was the first. No, it was invented in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Pepper was invented in 1885 in Waco, Texas at the Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store. Here is a brief history:
Most agree that either Robert Lazenby, a chemist, Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist and Wade Morrison, the pharmacy owner, created the drink. Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist educated in England, worked at Wade Morrison’s store, where he also served carbonated soft drinks at the soda fountain. He had noted that customers soon tired of drinking the same old fruit flavors. The inventive Alderton decided to make something new by blending several fruit-based flavors. After numerous experiments, he finally created one he liked. He named the drink Dr. Pepper. The name allegedly comes from Confederate Army doctor Charles Pepper, a Virginia doctor who gave Wade Morrison his first job. Dr. Pepper was also the same man who refused to permit Morrison to marry his daughter, Miss Pepper.
Now, there are substitutes out there. There is Mr. Pibb, Pepsi and Coca-Cola in the US. There is a “Mezzo-Mix” here in Germany. They taste similar, but they are just not the same. While there may competitors that try to act like this soft-drink brand, no one can compare. The same is true for Christmas. We try to do things that come close to the real substance of Christmas. But they are just imitations. So what is the substance of Christmas?
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. While the celebration of the birth of Christ is not an ordinance. It is not even what Jesus said we should celebrate. Jesus said to remember His death, not His birth. Yet we do it in this gift-giving and family-visiting way. Is this really Christmas?
Let us look at the Scriptures and see what God says Christmas is.
You have a simple drama laid out here, once in which the shepherds go and visit the Savior of the world. Let us look at the shepherds and see what Christmas is.
These shepherds were special shepherds. What is so special about these shepherds?
There was near Bethlehem, on the road to Jerusalem, a tower known as Migdal Eder, or the watch-tower of the flock. Here was the station where shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrifice in the temple. Animals straying from Jerusalem on any side, as far as from Jerusalem to Migdal Eder, were offered in sacrifice. It was a settled conviction among the Jews that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and equally that he was to be revealed from Migdal Eder. There is a beautiful significance of the revelation of the infant Christ to shepherds watching the flocks destined for sacrifice. (Vincent’s Word Studies from e-Sword).