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Summary: A slightly shorter message -- ideal for Christmas Eve, Candlelight Services, Cantata devotional, or condensed preaching time. When Christmas comes, will God find you working (like the shepherds), watching (like the wise men), or expectantly waiting (like

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WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES

Text: Micah 5:2

Among the many Christmas cards which Tanna and I receive every year, we received one a few years ago that was more of a little booklet than it was a card. It contained a series of 4 short Christmas stories, all contributed by Christian writers. And one of the stories I read in it was a story entitled, “The Gift of a Child,” by Mary Ann Matthews. It was so moving to me – I just wanted to share it with you tonight.

She wrote, “Christmas comes at different times for me every year. I never know precisely when it will arrive or what will produce its spirit, but I can always be sure that it will happen.

Last year Christmas happened while I was visiting my parents. The day was frightfully cold, with swirls of snow in the air, and I was looking out of the living room window of my folks’ home which faces St. Mary’s Church. Workmen had just finished constructing the annual Nativity scene in the churchyard when school let out for the day. Children gathered excitedly around the crèche, but they didn’t stay long: it was far too cold for lingering.

All the children hurried away – except for a tiny girl of about six. The wind lashed at her bare legs and caused her coat to fly open in the front, but she was not even aware of the weather. All her attention was riveted on the statues before her. Which one I couldn’t tell. Was it Mary? The Baby? The animals? I wondered.

And then I saw her remove her blue woolen head scarf. The wind quickly knotted her hair into a wild tangle, but she didn’t seem to notice that either. She had only one thought. Lovingly, she wrapped her scarf around the statue of Baby Jesus. After she had covered it, she patted the Baby and then kissed it on the cheek. Satisfied, she skipped on down the street, her fair frosted with tiny diamonds of ice. Christmas had come once again.”

You know, whether we are anticipating it, or whether we are ready for it or not – Christmas always comes one day a year, on the calendar. It’s been coming on the 25th of December for as long as any of us have been alive. But, for so many in our world, all it ever does is come on the calendar – one day a year. For, it never comes in their hearts – many days of the year.

For those who know the real joy of Christmas – you can’t possibly wrap all the excitement, and all the anticipation, and all the sacredness up into a single 24 hour period. I hope that by now, Christmas has already come within the hearts of everyone here tonight. It’s not a single day’s happening. It’s an entire season – that we celebrate on a specific day. And I just wanted to ask you three simple questions this evening – as we look forward to that one day – this coming (day of the week).

1. WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES, WILL GOD FIND YOU WORKING – LIKE THE SHEPHERDS OUT IN THE FIELDS?

Luke 2:8 says, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” I think it’s a wonderful testimony and tribute that the first to learn of the birth of Christ – were working men. . .ordinary laborers. They didn’t enjoy the great luxuries of the wealthy. They didn’t have the great learning of the scholarly. They were simple, dedicated men – who were simply doing the job that God had set before them to do. They didn’t know you were supposed to be off on Christmas, I guess!

And now, I hope that for every one of your sakes – you all get a day off on Christmas. I know that some of you probably won’t – but I wish it for you anyway. But I’m not really talking about your being in the office, or in the factory, or wherever you work on Christmas Day. I’m simply talking about being about the work that God has set before you – during this season, as well as all others. Not becoming slack in your faithfulness – because other things are crowding in on you. Not becoming negligent in your service – because your attention is being drawn elsewhere. Not becoming neglectful in your stewardship – because of all the other bills you’ve run up.

In the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus prayed to the Father, “I have finished the work which you gave me to do.” (vs. 4) And how I pray that one day when I stand before God – I can say, without any hesitation, “Father, I have finished the work which you gave me to do. I did my best to achieve every challenge you placed before me. I was about your business when you called me home.”

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