Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!
Unfortunately this message that seems so plain and clear to you and me is hidden under the many masks of modern day Christmas traditions such as:
A fat bearded guy in a red suit
Grand Christmas programs
While there is nothing wrong in and of themselves, these are the trappings of Christmas to many Americans. When it comes to flashy decorations, I like them. For the first year since we’ve been married, we have decorations on the outside of our house. Some of you have heard about our Christmas tree lights. It’s a story that involves failure and frustration as I tried to get a tree with blue, green, and purple lights. After several failed attempts, we finally had our tree. One of our Christmas traditions while we lived in Indiana was to go to Matter Park in Marion and view and annual Christmas display. This was great fun as we would put Christmas carols on in the tape player and wind through the 3/4-mile display. There’s nothing wrong with flashy decorations, except when they take our focus off of Jesus.
There’s nothing wrong with Santa Claus (the man in red suit) Matter of fact, if we look at the historical Santa Claus it had everything to do with giving gifts. St. Nicholas gave gifts to those in need. We get in trouble however when Santa Claus takes our focus off Jesus and his Father. Jesus is our ultimate gift.
There is nothing wrong with expensive gifts. Working in retail, gives one a unique perspective on the “holidays.” I was amazed this week, to see the amount of money, and by the way most of it was of the buy now and pay later variety. I was amazed to the amount of money spent on Christmas gifts. People didn’t think anything of plopping down 100,200, or 300 dollars on a gift. There’s nothing wrong with expensive gifts. Matter of fact, God gave us the most expensive gift when he gave us his son. God didn’t stop at anything to save his people. The thing wrong with expensive gifts is that they take our focus off Jesus. What is wrong with expensive gifts? When they mask the true reason for the season.
There’s nothing wrong with grand Christmas programs. I’ve had the privilege to be part of several excellent Christmas programs. This week our family flashed back to several of those program via videos. But the one thing I know is that sometimes you get so focused on the technical points (the music, the notes, the lights, the pageantry, the sound and so on.) that your focus comes off the very story you are trying to present. I remember the first time I sang in a program entitled “From Heaven’s Throne.” It was a spectacle worthy of Broadway. Bill and Gloria Gaither‘s former soundman was the sound engineer and Ray‘s Boltz’s lighting director set up and ran the lights. I remember the awesome feeling as we sang the songs and how we told the story of Jesus from the point of the angels. I remember the emotions that ran through me over the seven days of the program. We ministered to a great number of people — to standing room only crowds. I remember helping the television production crew and watching it all take place on the screen. But I remember how I felt after presenting the program that final year we lived in Marion. Some of the newness wore off. It didn’t feel the same. The trouble is, is that I had taken my eyes of Jesus. I became so familiar with the story, it didn’t mean the same thing to me. There’s nothing wrong with grand programs, as long as they don’t mask the true meaning of Christmas.
What is the true meaning of Christmas? It is to celebrate the Child who is the light. Jesus Christ came to bring light to the world. John 8: 12 says, “Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing the way of the Lord. We have been preparing our hearts for what we celebrated yesterday. Christ is come! Joy to the world the Lord IS come. Not has come, but IS come. We come this morning to celebrate a glorious birthday. Matter of fact I received an invitation that I would like to share with you.
A Birthday Celebration
Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ
Date: Traditionally, December 25 but He’s always around, so the date is flexible.
Time: Whenever you’re ready
(Please don’t be late, though, or you’ll miss out on all the fun)
Place: In your heart
(You’ll hear him knock)
Attire: Come as you are…grubbies are okay (He’ll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.)
Tickets: Admission is free. He’s already paid for everyone…
(He says you wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway it cost Him everything He had..– But you do need to receive the ticket!)
Refreshments: New wine, bread and a far-out drink He calls “Living Water” followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world.
Gift Suggestions: Your life. He’s one of those people who already has everything else. (He’s very generous in return though. Just wait until you see what He has for you.)
Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness, Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power, Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more. (All. “G” rated, so bring your family and friends)
R.S.V.P — Very important!
He must know ahead so He can reserve a spot for you at the table. Also, He’s keeping a list of His friends for future reference. He calls it the “Lamb’s Book of Life.”