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Christmas Stories // Part 2

Why You and I Ought to Make a Bigger Deal Out of Christmas

All the fanfare and celebration began this way 2000 years ago. I love reading this story from the KJV:

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And from that humble and simple beginning, we have pretty much the entire world acknowledging this one day of the year. This one day throughout the world, especially in western cultures, we all stop, note, there’s something about Christmas.

- Yes, the motives of many have become secular and commercial.

- But Christmas is the only time of the year you can walk through just about any store and hear “Silent Night” or “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

- Though admittedly many don’t focus on the meaning behind the lyrics, we are all being exposed at the same time and in a giant way to the spectacular plan of God.

- And here’s a really big challenge for us – in fact, I started hearing this back in October – the progressives are trying to take Christ out of Christmas, and what are we gonna do about it?

- Some stores apparently have told their employees not to say “Merry Christmas” – manger scenes forbidden in some public squares – schools having a “Winter Holiday” instead of Christmas break. I could go on and on but you know it already. We hear this stuff every single year. Same song – same old chorus.

- But can I appeal to you church – we have 14 days – 14 incredible days. Let’s not walk around complaining about what’s happening to Christmas. Let’s not spend these 2 weeks fussing over how it used to be and wishing it still was. Please, let’s stop talking about what we don’t believe and talk more about what we do believe.

- Negative begets negative. Yes, it bothers us. Yes, we are against the commercialization, especially when it makes us stand in line forever paying for all the presents we bought, and fighting all the traffic to get to the malls, and waiting forever in the restaurants, and that line to get our kids and grandkids to Santa is hardly worth it, and spending money we don’t have. Yes, they really have commercialized Christmas.

- But not so for us. This is the best time for Christ-followers to shine.

- Share “Merry Christmas” everywhere you go.

- Give back to your church and community as we share in the spirit of giving.

- Invite people – unchurched people – to Christmas Eve. This is the one service per year when we try to not appeal and please all of us who come all the time, but design an hour where everything is focused saying, “You need Jesus and you should be here every week.”

82% of people surveyed said they’d come to church if a trusted friend invited them. Yet, in a typical year, only 2% of Christians invite a friend to church. That breaks my heart!

- Hey, this is no time to be more cynical than the world, which at least acknowledges there’s something special about Christmas even if they don’t know what it is.

- Stop complaining about the world. Reach it instead.

- I don’t want to go to church – the hope of the world – and come in from all the struggles and pains and challenges – and come here and hear the people of God and the man of God fuss and complain about some sales clerk not wishing me a “Merry Christmas” or some coffee shop not having a manger scene on its red coffee cup.

- No, no, a thousand times no!

Joy to the world the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!

That’s our mantra!

- The darker the world gets the brighter our light shines.

That’s what made Christmas such a big deal in the beginning.

- The world was dark.
- Rome was oppressive.
- Jewish faith was tolerated but the people were treated terribly.
- Living in fear. Taxed to the max.
- Even their faith had become so controlled and manipulated they merely performed their duties and fulfilled their obligations.
- As the Scriptures say, “They had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.”
- It was just another demand placed on them in a highly oppressive culture.

- But – Hallelujah – about 6 miles from Jerusalem:
    “Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie
    Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
    A thousand stars go by
    Yet in thy dark street shineth
    The everlasting light
    The hopes and fears of all the years
    Are met in thee tonight”

  • In Bethlehem – lowly and humble Bethlehem…whose very name means “House of Bread.” Here in this peasant village – God declared:

        For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government
        shall be upon His shoulders. 
        And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting
        Father, Prince of Peace
        (Isaiah 9)

        For the Virgin Mary will give birth to a son, and they will call him
        Immanuel – which means, God is with us now. (Matthew 1)

        And thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from
        their sins. (Matthew 1)

        And the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings of great
        joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of
        David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

Now Church, that’s the presiding message that ought to consume us these next 330-some hours.

A Savior is born. 

God heard the cries of wounded, sinful people and sent us help and hope and deliverance and forgiveness and life and love and joy and peace.

And He came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And left out of here alive and well from a cold tomb of death.

And I heard Him exclaim as He rose out of sight:

“I’m coming again so you better get right!” 

No, not really. I made that up so it would rhyme!

This same Jesus will come again just as He said.

Oh church, He is coming again!

- The first time He came, He came as a baby.
- The next time He comes, He’ll come as the King.

- The first time He came, He came in a lowly manger.
- The next time He comes, He’ll come on the clouds.

- The first time He came, He came to redeem.
- The next time He comes, He’ll come to reign.

- The first time He came, he came to a tree.
- The next time He comes, He will come to a throne.

- The first time He came, He came to walk among us in our home.
- The next time He comes, He will come to take us to His House!

- Oh yes, it’s a big, big deal we’ve got going on the next 14 days and we the church need to celebrate!

So, what do we do?

1. We go and worship.

The shepherds got the message and they went to see Him (vs. 15).

- See Him this Christmas.
- Don’t miss seeing Him. It is a deliberate act to do so.

2. We leave and tell.

When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Vss. 17-18)

3. And we must never forget what we’ve seen and heard.

The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20 NIV)

Well, here we go. In a couple of minutes, we will formally be dismissed. But for those couple of minutes, we are being asked to make some pretty important decisions.

1st - Do you know this Jesus of Christmas?

2nd - What will you take out there?

- A cynical heart? Join in the complaining and fussing and griping over Christmas changes?

- Will we go out and push and shove with the best of them? And stress and work so hard decorating and baking and cooking and entertaining that we’ll just be glad when it is over?

- Or, how about we start now, right now, looking to our left and right and share a heartfelt, “Merry Christmas.”

- And how about taking your time leaving today and visiting with one another and chatting with someone you haven’t caught up with in a while?

- And then, when we are done here – they are out there. Those working hard today to serve you at the restaurant and retail store. They’d rather have been here or at home, and even if they aren’t allowed to say, “Merry Christmas,” no one is stopping you from sharing it.

- And they’re out there – you’ll see them this week – and rub shoulders with them – share a breakroom with them, or a cubicle, or a station. They’re there. Empty hearts and empty eyes. Needing a friend, a kind word, a prayer, a touch, a moment of your time, a “Merry Christmas.”

- How are you going to spend your next 330 some hours?

Worship Set

Joy To The World

- Isaac Watts and G.F. Handel Arr. by Joel Mott

Verse 1

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev'ry heart, prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heav'n and heav'n and nature sing

Verse 2

Joy to the world the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods rocks hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

Verse 3

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nation prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His Love

Misc (Tag)

Joy to the world
The wonders of Your love
The wonders of Your love

God With Us 

- Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt

Verse 1

You are matchless in grace and mercy
There is nowhere we can hide from Your love
You are steadfast never-failing
You are faithful
All creation is in awe of who You are

Verse 2

You're the healer of the sick and the broken
You are comfort for ev'ry heart that mourns
Our King and our Savior forever
For eternity we will sing of all You've done
For eternity we will sing of all You've done

Chorus 1

(We sing) God with us God for us
Nothing can come against
No one can stand between us
God with us God for us
Nothing can come against
No one can stand between us

Verse 3

Your heart it moves with compassion
There is life there is healing in Your love
You're the Father the Son the Holy Spirit
For eternity we will sing of all You've done

Misc 1 (Bridge)

Where there was death
You brought life Lord
Where there was fear
You brought courage
When I was afraid
You were with me
And You're lifting me up
And You're lifting me up

Misc 2 (Bridge)

And You're lifting me up
And You're lifting me up
And You're lifting me up
And You're lifting me up

He Who Is Mighty 

- Kate DeGraide and Rebecca Elliott

Verse 1

Oh the mercy our God has shown
To those who sit in death's shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone

Misc 1 (Pre-Chorus)

Unto us a Son is given unto us a Child is born

Chorus 1

He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh conquered death's sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name

Verse 2

Oh the freedom our Savior won
The yoke of sin has been broken
Once a slave now by grace
No more condemnation

Misc 2 (Bridge)

Now my soul magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God Who saves
I will trust His unfailing love
I will sing His praises all my days

Great I Am 

- Jared Anderson

Verse 1

I wanna be close close to Your side
So Heaven is real and death is a lie
I wanna hear voices of angels above
Singing as one

Chorus 1

Hallelujah holy holy
God Almighty great I Am
Who is worthy none beside Thee
God Almighty great I Am

Verse 2

I wanna be near near to Your heart
Loving the world hating the dark
I wanna see dry bones living again
Singing as one

Misc 1 (Bridge)

The mountains shake before You
The demons run and flee
At the mention of Your name King of majesty
There is no pow'r in hell or any who can stand
Before the power and the Presence of the great I Am
The great I Am (5X)

O Come, All Ye Faithful (Chris Tomlin) 

- Chris Tomlin

Chorus 1

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Verse 1

O come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye O come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels

Verse 2

Sing choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
O sing all ye citizens of heav'n above
Glory to God
All glory in the highest

Misc 1 (Vamp)

Christ the Lord
You are the Lord

Verse 3

Yea Lord we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv'n
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

Misc 2 (Vamp)

You are the Lord
You are the Lord
You are the Lord

Chorus 2

We'll praise Your name forever
We'll praise Your name forever
We'll praise Your name forever
Christ the Lord
Glory in the highest
We'll praise Your name forever
We'll praise Your name forever
We'll praise Your name forever
Christ the Lord