Christmas is in the air! Well, down at Drake’s Circus, all along New George Street and across Armada Way, Christmas has been in the air pretty much since September! The shops have been making sure we’re well prepared for Christmas.
They all claim to have the perfect present – whether it’s a warm pair of gloves, the latest mobile phone, a must-watch DVD, or the best-selling book…
And M&S – they’ll tell you that you need the perfect turkey – and surprise surprise, they actually sell them! – along with all the trimmings that you must have if you’re going to have a perfect Christmas dinner.
Well, all these things aren’t bad in and of themselves! Don’t get me wrong… I’m definitely not against presents so if you’ve brought me any… do pass them on! And food – man Jesus enjoyed eating so much that people accused Him of being a glutton! And myself – I’m looking forward to being more stuffed than a turkey!
But I’m sure you all know what the problem is with Christmas on the high street! Jesus is largely missing. More and more, the world is trying and succeeding in taking Jesus out of Christmas. Think about it – it’s increasingly hard to find Christmas cards. Having replaced Jesus and the nativity scene with pretty scenery, holly, bells, Santa and snowmen, it’s no longer a Merry Christmas, but a mere Season’s Greetings or Happy Winter!
According to an article on the BBC, “Recent trends have shown that Christmas is gradually becoming a traditional British holiday rather than a Christian one. It is increasingly taking on a secular and commercial character…”
Here’s what someone whom they interviewed said: “We just see Christmas as a nice celebration. I just love the atmosphere. We really enjoy all the snow, the tinsel and the carol singers. It's a lovely time of year. I especially love the build up to Christmas. There are massive amounts of present buying. We go to my parents' house and have Christmas dinner with crackers and on boxing day all the family come round with the kids and we have another meal. The house is decorated with trees, stars and we always watch Christmas TV… We do everything to do with Christmas, except celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
Thing is… if we take Christ out of Christmas, then we no longer have Christmas. We can call it whatever we want, but it just won’t be Christmas that we’re celebrating!
Well, we’ve all battled the cold and icy roads to get to church tonight. It’s a great opportunity – you know, before it all goes a bit mad tomorrow – to just regain a sense of perspective as to what Christmas is about and why we should indeed celebrate it wholeheartedly and lavishly!
Unlike that lady whom the BBC interviewed, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Yet, we’re not merely celebrating the birth of Jesus in the same way that a Muslim might celebrate the birth of Muhammad or a Buddhist the birth of Buddha.
Look at John 1vv1-2 – In the beginning was the Word [it’s one of the many important titles for Jesus], and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Jesus did not begin to exist on that very first Christmas Day, He didn’t begin to exist when He was first conceived in His mother’s womb! No… in the beginning, before anything or anyone else existed, Jesus was already there. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus has always existed with His Father and the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus is the creator of everything. vv3-4 – Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men.
Right in the beginning, on Day 1 of creation, the Father sent Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to create everything. Even before the sun – S-U-N – was created, Jesus was already the true life and light to all creation – sent to be the creator and sustainer of everything. Right now, we’re breathing because Jesus keeps us breathing, our hearts are beating because He makes sure that they’re beating. And tomorrow, as we open our presents and feast with family and friends, we’ll be enjoying the gifts that Jesus has lavished on us.
So this evening and all day tomorrow, we’re not merely celebrating the birth of some founder of religion. Jesus is the founder of the universe and at Christmas, we’re celebrating the day Jesus, the divine, eternal and powerful Word of God became one of us.
Quite a few years ago Joan Osborne sang “What if God was one of us?” It wonders and speculates what it might be like if God was one of us. Thing is, she didn’t have to speculate or guess. Christmas reminds us that God is one of us! John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only Begotten Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God is one of us! The eternal Son moved into the neighbourhood and lived among humanity – walking, talking, sleeping, eating, laughing, crying, even dying! God has been seen face to face, seen for who He is and what He’s like.
Have you got any questions about God? Are you searching for the Living God? Go to the only place where He may be found. Go to Jesus, the Word who has been sent by the Father precisely to make Himself known to us. Without Jesus, God is silent. Without the Light that gives light to all men, we can only grope around in darkness.
Now, as it has always been, all questions about God find their answers in Jesus – John 1v18 – No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only Begotten Son, who is at the Father’s side, [He] has made Him known.
So the question is not ‘what if’ – but ‘why’? Why did the Father send the Son to become one of us? Why did the Father communicate Himself to us in Jesus?
We’re probably familiar with how Jesus was sent to bring us salvation – forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. These are awesome things that we desperately need – they are part and parcel of salvation, but compared to the full extent of God’s gift to us in Jesus, they’re like the wrapping paper and box around the full gift, they’re like the trimmings around the turkey! Because more than forgiveness and living forever, salvation is about being brought into the family of God, brought into the Trinity – John 1v12 – to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.
I wonder if you’ve thought about salvation or Christmas is such a way before? Christmas was planned from before the creation of the world. In fact, the world was created so that Christmas could take place. The world was created as a family home for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and they want to share this home with humanity!
And it’s not because they are looking for a bunch of slaves to serve them and pander to their every whim and fancy! That’s not the kind of God that we see in Jesus at all! No… the Father, Son and Holy Spirit wants us to share their home as part of their family.
And for that to happen, Jesus was sent to become one of us. When Christmas happened, God became our blood relative! In His physical body and by the Holy Spirit, Jesus has brought God to us and us to God. And when that happens, when we’re part of the family of God – then we share in the eternal love that the Father has for the Son.
Unlike the Santa who’s coming to town in that song, when Jesus came to town, He doesn’t frown upon those who pout or cry. Instead, He shared in all our sadness and tears! This means that even if Christmas is a hard time for some of us – it’s ok. We’ve got a God who knows exactly what we’re going through and feels for us. May you know the comforting peace of Jesus even this Christmas.
And unlike Santa, when Jesus came to town, He didn’t come with a list that he’s made and checked twice. He wasn’t bothered about who’s naughty and nice, or who’s been bad or good. Jesus didn’t come to reward boys and girls who’ve been good or to put coals in the socks of those who’ve been bad. When Jesus came, He was sent by the Father as a gift to ALL – that all may share and find rest in the very same love that He has for the Son!
We all know we’re more naughty than nice, we’re more bad than good – but no matter. As children of God – the Father’s pleasure, delight and love rests on each of us. And right now, what He says to Jesus, He says to each of us, who have become His children – You are my child whom I love, with you I am well-pleased. Every nano-second of every day! And I’ll never ever disown you! Not on your life!
What wonderful peace, joy and assurance! How wonderful, kind, beautiful, gracious and loving is the true and living God! May all of you know, enjoy and be comforted by God’s gift of Himself to you this Christmas – maybe even for the first time! To all who receive Jesus, to all who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God!
Happy Christmas! Amen!