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Christmas

What Are You Doing For Christmas This Year?

Luke 2:8-20

 I have entitled my sermon “What Are You Doing For Christmas This Year?”. This will be a question that every one of us will receive during this holiday season.

 In my opinion I suggest to you, You and I as Christians need to be prepared to answer this question. I submit to you that we can answer this question and help others learn the true meaning of Christmas – the fact that there is a God and He has sent His Son Jesus and that we need Jesus.

 As we come closer to Christmas time, many people are making plans. They ask the question: “What will you be doing for Christmas?”

 Most people who ask this question answer it with a couple of answers like this:

I am going to go home to see my parents.

We are going to have Christmas dinner with some friends.

My husband is getting off work and so we plan to spend Christmas together.

My children are in town and so we will get together.

 Answers usually do not get much deeper than this. People have the expectation that at Christmas, what we do is spend time with family and friends. We celebrate what we think is Christmas by giving gifts to one another. You may hear it said this way:

I can’t wait to see what Santa will give me under the tree this year.

I wonder what gifts I will get from my husband or wife.

I wonder how we are going to pay for the gifts that we just bought for everyone.

 Is this Christmas? Is this what is expected out of what we call the holiday season. This is interesting because the word holiday is an Old English word that means holy day. So, our language defines what Christmas is, but we have changed the meaning. What should you and I be doing for Christmas? Is it more than just giving gifts (or expecting gifts?) Is it more than spending time and money going places so that we can say that we visited important people? Is this Christmas?

 I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, while I think it is good to visit family and friends and give and receive gifts, I believe Christmas is much more. We are acting in the imitation of the substance of Christmas.

 Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. While the celebration of the birth of Christ is not an ordinance. It is not even what Jesus said we should celebrate. Jesus said to remember His death, not His birth. Yet we do it in this gift-giving and family-visiting way. Is this really Christmas?

 Let us look at the Scriptures and see what the Lord says Christmas is.

 Luke 2:8-20

 In the text, you have a simple drama laid out, one in which the shepherds go and visit the Savior of the world.

 Let us look at this familiar scripture more closely and see what Christmas is.

 These shepherds were special shepherds. What is so special about these shepherds?

 Background:

The shepherds were near Bethlehem, on the road to Jerusalem, a tower known as Migdal Eder, or the watch-tower of the flock. Here was the station where shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrifice in the temple. Animals straying from Jerusalem on any side, as far as from Jerusalem to Migdal Eder, were offered in sacrifice. It was a settled conviction among the Jews that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and equally that he was to be revealed from Migdal Eder. There is a beautiful significance of the revelation of the infant Christ to shepherds watching the flocks destined for sacrifice. (Vincent’s Word Studies from e-Sword).

 By revealing the fact that the shepherds watched the flocks at night, Dr. Luke shows that the birth of Jesus Christ did not happen in the winter. It is more likely that Jesus was born in the early fall. This may lead to another reason why Jesus said to remember His death and not His birth.

 Symbolically, the shepherd represents the servant of the Lord. David and Moses were both shepherds before they were called into the Lord ‘s service, as was Abraham and Jacob. These shepherds would have the same privilege of service as the shepherds in the Old Testament. So, the shepherds themselves give us a clue as to what Christmas is.

 Christmas Is About A Call To Service – Luke 2:15

 Christmas is not about getting gifts, but about giving gifts. Just like the shepherds took care of sheep and were called out by the angels to visit the Savior, so you and I are called out to serve. We need to take the time of Christmas and serve others. How do you do that?

 You can do that by simply offering a place for others who have nothing. You can do that by inviting people to your home and celebrating Christmas together.

 Notice also that while the shepherds were invited to visit the Christ child, they took up on the invitation. They could have said no. But of course, they said yes. This leads us to another clue about Christmas:

 Christmas Is About A Visit With The Lord Luke 2:16-17

 When was the last time you visited with the Lord? How long has it been since you took up an invitation to meet with Him in prayer? I hope it has not been last year at this time? I hope that your visit with the Lord is not just an annual ritual. Christmas is about visiting the Lord. We need to take time to get to know Him and celebrating Him.

 Christmas Is About A Conservation With Others – Luke 2:18

 Notice what the shepherds do after they visit the Lord. They go tell someone else.

 I suggest to you that this is what the changed life in Jesus Christ does for you. When you become a Christian, you follow Christ. When you visit God and realize the good things He has in store for you through His Son Jesus, you want to naturally tell someone else?

 Some versions say that the shepherds made it “widely” known. How many people know that you celebrate Christmas by celebrating your relationship with Jesus?

 Have you told someone - “Yeah, I follow Christ and I am going to celebrate that this month?” Have you told people that you have met the Savior?

Have you struck up a conversation with someone this month about Christmas? Did that conversation include telling them that you follow Jesus? Did that conversation come to a point of inviting others to visit with Jesus? This is part of what Christmas is about.

 Christmas Is About A Desire To Worship Luke 2:20

 The shepherds showed a call to service, had a visit with the Lord and shared a conversation with others. They also expressed a desire to worship. The shepherds went back to work worshiping and praising God. They praised God because they had the privilege of meeting the Messiah of the world. They met Him, but we have Him.

 You and I should spend some time thanking God about His gift to us – His Son Jesus Christ. There are many ways you and I can do this. We can worship in song. We can worship by reading the story. We can worship by just spending time with our family thanking God for giving us Jesus. Many times, we thank God for the physical food that keeps us alive at Christmas time. However, we can also thank God for the spiritual gift that will keep us eternally alive – namely His Son Jesus Christ.

 Conclusion and Bottom Line

 No matter how you celebrate Christmas this year, spend that time focusing not on the material gains in gifts, or the requirements of family expectations.

  1. Instead, focus this year on Jesus – He is the reason for Christmas.
  2. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ is Christmas. Everything else is just a poor substitute.