MERRY CHRISTMAS: EXPERIENCING THE JOY OF CELEBRATING JESUS
To listen to or download the audio MP3 of this message, click HERE.
HUMOUR: A politically correct holiday greeting
Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all.
THE BIG IDEA: The traditional expression “Merry Christmas” reminds us that there is a joy that comes from experiencing the Christ of Christmas.
- Merry – full of cheerfulness; joyous in disposition or spirit: laughingly happy; mirthful; festively joyous; hilarious.
- Christmas – Mass = a celebration; A celebration of Jesus!
OPENING: I love Christmas. To me, it really is, “The most wonderful time of the year!”
Share personal stories of being a child growing up in Saskatchewan, driving with my family to go spend Christmas with my grandparents. My desire to make Christmas special for my kids.
JOKE: I heard the story of a dad who wanted to try to be creative at disguising obvious gifts when wrapping Christmas presents. As he told the story, he said: One year I bought a video for my four-year-old son, and not wanting him to guess what it was, I put it in a cereal box, wrapped it and put it under the tree. Christmas morning he tore off the paper, let out a whoop and exclaimed, “Look, Mom, I got breakfast!”
THE TRUE STORY OF CHRISTMAS VIDEO:
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT MIRACLES:
Background to the story –a young couple named Mary and Joseph who were engaged.
“26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38, NKJV).
- There is a joy that comes from knowing the Lord is with you.
- Because God’s favour is upon us, we don’t have to be afraid.
- Some of you are worried, fearful or depressed. Come to Jesus and receive His joy!
- Our response to God? “We are your servants – do to us according to your word!”
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT JESUS THE SAVIOUR:
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. e And he called His name Jesus.” (Matt. 1:18-25).
- What joy there is to know that Jesus came to save us from our sins!
- Jesus is called Immanuel – God with us. He is for us, not against us!
STORY: “Puppies for Sale” (Chicken Soup for the Soul).
A little boy appeared under the store owner’s sign, “Puppies for sale.” “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked. The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.” “I have $2.37,” the little boy said, “Can I please look at them?” The store owner smiled and whistled, and out of the kennel came five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately, the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?” The owner explained that it had no hip socket; it would always be lame. The little boy became excited. “That is the little puppy that I want to buy.” The store owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.” The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay the full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.” The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.” To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”
- What a great picture of what Jesus did for us by becoming a human!
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT JOY AND PEACE:
“1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:1-20).
- The first thing the angel said Jesus came for was to bring good tidings of great joy.
- Secondly, the angels declared peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
- Because of Jesus, we can experience God’s peace and joy!
- Our response to experiencing this should be to glorify and praise God, too.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT SEEKING AND WORSHIPPING THE KING:
“1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:1-11).
- Wise men still seek the King and worship Jesus today!
- We too should be generous in the giving of gifts – to God and one another.
CLOSING TEXT: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).