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Christmas time is here and so it is time to….. shop. Now I know some of you like to shop more than others of us, but Christmas still demands we all do some shopping. This year, Evan was home for Thanksgiving. While he really did not want to go, we all went out on Black Friday. We went to a few stores, and it was crazy. People were everywhere, all looking for the perfect deal or the perfect gift trying to decide what to get your loved one. Trying to find just the right, amazing gift is not always easy, but we still try to get that perfect gift!
The perfect gift, according to some, is Lords a leaping, pipers piping, turtle doves and of course a partridge in a pear tree. PNC Financial Services reported that you can get that, but unfortunately the price has reached a all-time high. If you were to purchase the twelve items listed in the “Twelve days of Christmas” this year, it would cost a total of $46,729.86 that is an increase of 2.7% from last year. It even gets worse. If you wanted to buy each item listed on the twelve days-12 partridges, 24 turtle doves, and so on totaling 364 items that total would rise up to be more than $200,000!
It is amazing all that we put ourselves through to find the “perfect” present. The “perfect” present is not always perfect, sometimes not even memorable. Can you remember what you received for Christmas last year? Two years ago? Maybe you do, but the bigger question is do you realize how significant the gift that changed the world is to YOU?
This year as I look for gifts, I want that special thing that people will remember, cherish and be willing to tell everyone-what they have in that gift. When you think about it that is what God did for us. Christmas should make us remember, cherish and want to tell everyone what God has given us. Luke 2 tells us-
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the
entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one
another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the
manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
God gave us the perfect gift. We can’t let all the things “of Christmas” cheat us of “Christmas.” This year take a moment to thank God for His gift. Our sermon series “Christmas reminds us that Jesus Changes Everything” means just that. Consider what Jesus has changed for you. That should make the joy of Christmas become, once again, the greatest story ever told.
Christmas is still over four weeks away, and I don’t know about you, but I
already feel a little overwhelmed. I’ve been rehearsing with the choir for
our Christmas Canata, y’all come check it out this weekend. Things have
been crazy busy here at the church as we’ve been preparing for Bethlehem.
I still have Christmas parties for the deacons, for my Sunday school class,
a band concert, my daughters piano recital, kids choir concert, kids
Christmas parties, our youth Christmas party, etc.
The activities surrounding Christmas seem to dominate every aspect of our
lives in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas day. There is just so
much to do, and we feel guilty if we don’t do go to the parties and concerts
and help decorate. This is the way we celebrate God sending His Son into
our world right. Keeping all of these obligations and traditions is our way of
showing others, and showing Jesus himself how important He is in our lives
right? (Cue sarcasm)
What if the concerts and parties and getting people presents and the
celebrating is taking attention away from the One that we’re supposed to be
celebrating? What if all of the attention that we give to the events around
Christmas detracts from the attention we should be giving to the One
whose birth we are celebrating? Is it possible that we could be doing so
much in service and celebration of Jesus’ arrival, that we forget to spend
time with Him? I think it is, and I think that we have all been guilty of this.
Jesus was a busy guy. He walked all over the place sharing the news
about how He could save people. Whenever he went to a new town,
people were inviting them to their place to have dinner and hang out.
Jesus hung out with all kinds of people, rich tax collectors, poor prostitutes,
and some very special friends.
Luke chapter 10 tells the story of one of those dinners that Jesus went to.
It was at the home of Mary and Martha, two sisters. As always, when
Jesus arrived there was a lot or preparation to be done. Jesus always had
at least twelve other people with Him. Martha was the older sister and she
was concerned with being the perfect hostess. She was focused on getting
everything done that needed to be done. Her younger sister Mary was not
helping at all.
38“While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named
Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary,
who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. 40But
Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked,
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her
to give me a hand.” 41The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are
worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary
has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Instead of giving into the pressures to host, entertain, and accomplish,
What was Mary doing? Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. She spent time with Jesus.
She was listening to Jesus speak. She was learning to follow Him more
closely. Meanwhile, Martha was not sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Instead,
she was trying to be the perfect hostess. There were a lot of mouths to
feed. Sleeping arrangements needed to be made. Tons of work went into
hosting Jesus and the disciples.
In verse 40, Jesus tells us that Martha was distracted. Martha was so
frustrated that her sister had left her to do all the work that she actually
interrupted Jesus’ teaching to ask Him to tell Mary to help her out with the
work. Martha had missed the point. She got so distracted by all of the
activity and busyness surrounding Jesus’ arrival, that she actually thought
that the activity was more important than spending time with the One all of
the activity was surrounding. She wasn’t ignoring Him or being rude. She
was simply distracted, and forgot what it was that she should be focusing
We are so guilty of this, aren't we? We get fixated on getting the house just
right for Christmas, getting the perfect picture for the card, making sure the
perfect gifts are bought, and all of the programs and services are attended.
We think that the activity surrounding Jesus’ arrival is more important than
spending time with the One we are celebrating!
I think the hardest lesson for Martha to learn, was that time with Jesus is
better than service for Jesus. Martha was doing all that she was doing for
Jesus, yet He told her “Mary made the right choice.” Martha’s choice had
not been bad. The things she was working on were all good – it simply
wasn’t the right choice at the moment. Why? Because Jesus was there and
Jesus is better. Time with Jesus is better than a perfect meal, even one
thrown in His honor. Time with Jesus is better than a tidy house. Time with
Jesus is better than getting the perfect gift for someone special.
This Christmas, we will be tempted to focus our time and attention on all of
the activity surrounding the arrival of Christ. There is nothing wrong with
shopping, dinners, school programs, parties, and there is certainly nothing
wrong with our special services at church. But we have the opportunity to,
be like Mary and make the right choice. We have the opportunity to spend
time with the One whose arrival we are celebrating.
We have the opportunity to be with Jesus, which is the miracle of
Christmas! Seven centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah
wrote, “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will
conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. (which means “God with
Immanuel, God with us. God made time to send His son to come to earth
and be born in a manger, so that He could be crucified for all our sins so
that we could have eternal life through Him.
So let’s set some time aside to read His word and spend time in prayer and
thanksgiving. Let’s find ways that we can sit at His feet and spend time with
Him. God bless and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Kids and Christmas go together! The colors, the lights, the presents and the wonder all appeal to a child's sense of the great and magical! As Christian parents trying to raise little disciples, we sometimes worry that all the "glitter" surrounding Christmas gets in the way of helping our children understand the true meaning of our Savior's birth. But rather than trying to strip the holiday of its wrappings, I think we can use those wrappings to actually teach our children to honor and treasure the true story of the baby in the manger.
Our FBC Kids Choir has been working since September to prepare their musical, "The Colors of Christmas." Most of the songs are familiar and you may want to sing along with some! But it's the dialogue that I hope you pay special attention to. The kids take the colors of Christmas and show you how they are found in the nativity story. Understanding the meanings behind some of these colors and symbols really ties things together and will help you, as parents, to find teaching moments all season as you point your children to the Savior.
Come out Wednesday, December 13 at 6:00pm to see the FBC Kids Choir present "The Colors of Christmas." It will honor the hard work the kids have done and it will bless your heart with a deeper understanding of the colors and symbols of this season as we celebrate the greatest gift of all -- Jesus!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15