It’s a great time of year, eh? Christmas wishes, Christmas presents, Christmas food, Christmas drinks, Christmas TV programmes, Christmas movies, Christmas adverts, Christmas hangovers, Christmas debt, Christmas arguments …… and lots and lots of humbugs!
The problem is that Christmas isn’t what it was meant to be. For a start, it’s not Christmas or Xmas, it’s Christ-mas. You cannot take the Christ out of it.
Most people who know me know that I am technology daft, yet when I was a boy there wasn’t any technology. We all have mobile phones these days, but when I was a kid there were no mobiles, and very few people had even a landline. The fastest message anyone got back then was a telegram, and that was generally news that someone in the family had died.
Today, things are totally different and we are constantly bombarded with messages, some of them useful, but most of them totally pointless.
- It’s raining here
- Emily just poked you on Facebook
- You may be due a refund of £20000 if you have PPI and you’re daft enough to believe us
- So grateful for your help (but not grateful enough to say thank you face to face)
- Happy Xmas
Messages. We all do them. It’s keeping in touch, and we need to keep in touch. Some messages are trivial and some are important. There is one message that is really important, though.
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 NLT
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
Isaiah 35:4-8 NLT
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
This message is a message of hope, a message of healing, a message of real, everlasting love.
We see a lot of Christmas cards with the word ‘peace’ on them. This message, which comes straight from God, tells us that Jesus Christ is the bringer of that peace.
Luke 2:8-14 NLT
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
As I said earlier, presents are a big part of today’s Christmas. The Bible tells us about the first Christmas presents ever given.
Matthew 2:9, 11 NLT
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
We are so commercialised today. Kids are subjected to loads of adverts for the latest toy or gadget. They know what they want, and they ask for what they want. Just imagine the wee boy or girl opening that present on Christmas Day, the excitement written all over his face as he rips open the paper! He dives into the wrapping and pulls out the …..
“What’s this, dad?”
Then the screams, the anger, and all the other emotions that so often arise at this really happy time of the year! All because we don’t get what we want.
The thing is that we often get what we want, and never get what we need – and I’m not talking about deodorant. What we need is not something that we can buy, or anything that someone else can make. Nobody can give it to us. You see, the first Christmas present wasn’t the gold, or frankincense or myrrh that the three wise men gave to the baby.
The gift was the baby himself!
John 3:16 NLT
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
This is the only gift that matters at Christmas! It doesn’t get us into debt, it gets us out of it! It’s the gift of forgiveness for our sins, the gift of freedom from the power that sin holds over our lives. It’s the gift of a baby who was born so that we can be reborn and have a new start to our lives.
It’s the gift of Jesus, who died so that we can live for ever with him and with our Father in heaven.
It’s the gift that out-gives every other gift. It’s the gift that money can’t buy. It’s the real gift of Christmas, the meaning of Christmas.
It’s the gift of everlasting life.
For everyone who accepts it.
Let this Christmas be a Jesus Christmas!