Joke: A woman visits a fortune-teller around the holidays. She looks into her crystal ball and predicts: “Ah, yes, I see that you’re going to be visited by a jolly man with a beard and a big bag over his shoulder.” The woman sags. “Yes, that’ll be my son coming home from college with all of his laundry!”
Crises: On December 7, 1941, America was united in purpose after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Political differences faded away; divisions melted after the “day which will live in infamy.” Churchill confessed that it was actually a day of joy and relief for him; he knew that America would now enter the war and the unified efforts of the Allies were guaranteed to defeat Hitlerism.
After 9/11, all 100 U.S. Senators stood en masse and sang “God Bless America.” There are times when we set aside our petty grievances and embrace unity.
Irony: Christmas too often softens the core reality of our faith. Christmas is a “twinkly” time of gentle music and lights and easy platitudes. We are tempted to have our faith in Christ blend into the “mist of folklore.” Jesus joins Santa Claus & Easter Bunny.
Frantic: Our dedication is also swallowed up by being busy.
2. financial concerns
Christmas Carols: They actually affirm the core truths of our Christian faith
1. The virgin birth (Silent Night)
2. The Lordship of Jesus and our need to obediently follow Him (Joy to the World)
3. Christ’s sinless nature (Away in a Manger)
4. Jesus’ atonement and ransom on the cross (O Come, O Come Immanuel)
“Black Monday,” the day after Thanksgiving, is when stores want to move into profitability.
It’s the pinnacle of financial activity. Shouldn’t Christmas be the PINNACLE of our spiritual commitment, our devotion? Don’t be a C & E Christian (Christmas & Easter).
JOKE: A cartoon shows a man coming out of church; he only attends each Easter. He complains to the preacher: “You are really in a sermon rut; it’s always about the Resurrection!”
1. Reaffirm your faith; embrace the reality that choosing Jesus is a life or death decision
2. Do something tangible for God’s church; step up your efforts for the Body of Christ
3. Seek one opportunity to explicitly share Jesus and heaven with someone new
4. Allow the Christ Child to create unity among you and all other believers
Christmas brings a very soft unity. The cross and its salvation should bring rock-solid, unshakeable unity.
Story: Noble Alexander was an Adventist pastor in Cuba during the height of Castro’s Stalinist persecutions. He was arrested one day and sent to prison for 22 years. While there, all believers—Adventists, Baptists, Catholics—banded together to minister and serve. They still held to their distinctive doctrines, but the hope of heaven and the salvation that only Jesus brings reigned supreme. They took turns preaching, and found a way to resolve the Sabbath/Sunday issue.
We Affirm: teachings and study are important. The reality is that we’re not saved by the teachings of our unique church, but by what Jesus did at Calvary. Jesus came at Christmas to get to Easter.
Story: An Adventist pastor found himself attending a funeral service at a neighborhood mortuary; it turned out to be a Catholic mass done entirely in Spanish. He felt alienated at first, not understanding the liturgy or the language. There seemed to be a barrier. Then he noticed a painting on the wall of the faded building; it was Jesus on the cross. He realized that for every single person in the building—the deceased, the relatives, the visitors, the Catholics and the Protestants alike, Jesus was their only hope. Their common hope. Having Jesus triumph over Satan at Calvary was the core, the everything, of their lives.
Envision: the first Christmas in heaven, as a unified mass of redeemed people sing carols to Jesus with perfect and intense unity.
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.