Summary: In order to have a Christ-centered Christmas, we must repent, serve, and share especially in the midst of this chaotic holiday season.
Celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas
2003 Advent Series
Luke 3:1-8, 21-22
December 14, 2003
Purpose: In order to have a Christ-centered Christmas, we must repent, serve, and share especially in the midst of this chaotic holiday season.
Introduction – Some struggle in the preparation for Christmas.
My example - I strgulled with the newsletter articles that were conflicting.One talked of my disdain for this holiday…the other said “let Christmas come” even in the midst of the disdain.
EVERYONE EXPERIENCES Christmas a little differently than others. Here are some quotes I found from women authors...
"Evidently, Christmas was an unmitigated joy only for the people who inhabited department-store brochures and seasonal television specials. For everyone else the day seemed to be a trip across a mine field seeded with resurrected family feuds, exacerbated loneliness, emotional excess, and the inevitable disappointments that arise when expectations fall far short of reality." --Joyce Rebeta-Burditt, THE CRACKER FACTORY
"Like everyone in his right mind, I feared Santa Claus. --Annie Dillard, TEACHING A STONE TO TALK
"I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become. ... But there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress." --May Sarton, JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE
"There are few sensations more painful, than, in the midst of deep grief, to know that the season which we have always associated with mirth and rejoicing is at hand." --Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, TRAITS OF AMERICAN LIFE (1835)
"I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of Eternity in among the rush and pitter-patter and all. It always seems such a mixing of this world and the next -- but that after all IS the idea!" --Evelyn Underhill, in Charles Williams, ed., THE LETTERS OF EVELYN UNDERHILL
There is no doubt that many struggle with this holiday!
We began to heal this struggle when we put Christ at the Center of our Christmas. But, how is it done?
I. To have a Christ-centered Christmas – we must first repent.
We don’t have to go looking far to find things needing repentance in our society…broken homes, the increase of violence in our neighborhoods and dishonesty in our
workplaces. We see a lack of integrity in public life, the slow slide of the church into adopting the ways of the world, the decay of sexual immorality…and the list could go on…”
But John came with a simple message….REPENT!!! He didn’t say look at my clothes, comment on my style, search my biographical details for my University pedigree.
He said…just listen to what I’m saying…lose sight of everything else except this simple message.
For us, repentance can be as simple as realizing that the way we have been doing it isn’t working.
It’s realizing that God has a better plan than we do.
It’s recognizing that we often move from thing to thing, place to place, void of direction or vision.
It’s stopping for a moment, and saying, “God this is more about you than it’s about me. It’s your guidance I need, not anyone else’s, including my own."
John said, “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (v.8) To have a Christ-centered Christmas – we must first repent.
II. To have a Christ-centered Christmas – we must be willing to serve.
John’s quote from Isaiah in verses 4-6 is filled with instructions to serve…
– “prepare ye the way”
- “make straight the paths”
- “fill in every valley”
- “level every mountain”
- “straighten the crooked roads”
- “smooth the rough spots”
- why: so all mankind will see God’s salvation!!!
Thank God, we all don’t have to be John the Baptists…locust and honey is not my idea of a good Christmas meal. But, as Christians, we can serve others by imitating the way Christ served us.
- We can give baskets of food, and Christmas gifts, to those who need it.
- We can invite over neighbors and those who may not be able to be with family during the season.
- We can shovel a sidewalk or driveway or two, when no one is looking.
- We can be that shoulder when someone needs to cry, that friend who is willing to listen, that coworker who works with others, that boss that actually cares for his employees and shows it.
To have a Christ-centered Christmas – we must be willing to serve.
III. To have a Christ-centered Christmas – we must be willing to share.
From verses 10-11 we see the people, after repenting, wondering what to do next.
John told them ---SHARE--- “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
Is that not the real reason behind this holiday? God shared his son. (vs. 21-22) “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”