Take the year 1809. The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies. But the world was overlooking some terribly significant births.
For example, William Gladstone was born that year. He was destined to become one of England’s finest statesman. That same year, Alfred Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world in a marked manner. On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And not far away in Boston, Edgar Allan Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life. It was also in that same year that a physician named Darwin and his wife named their child Charles Robert. And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby’s name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been news broadcasts at that time, I’m certain these words would have been heard: “The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today.” But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Similarly, everyone thought taxation was the big news–when Jesus was born. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior.
Adapted from Charles Swindoll
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
Two women who were having lunch in an elegant hotel were approached by a mutual friend who asked the occasion for the meal. One lady replied, “We are celebrating the birth of my baby boy.” “But where is he?” inquired the friend. “Oh,” said the mother, “you didn’t think I’d bring him, did you?” What a picture of the way the world treats Jesus at Christmas.
Many years ago the Puritans thought that they were ruining Christmas with all their pagan rituals. They especially objected to the fact that the holiday usually came on a week day, therefore distracting people, they thought, from the Lord’s Day of Sunday. But they did more than annually complain about it as we do. They took action and got rid of Christmas altogether. In Puritan settlements across 17th century America a law was passed outlawing the celebration of Christmas. The market place was ordered to stay open for business as though it were no special occasion and all violators were prosecuted. It was against the law to make plum pudding on December 25th. The celebration was not referred to as Yuletide but as fooltide.
So we want to reform Christmas and clean it up do we? Well, is this how far we want to go? Do we really want to be rid of it altogether. Then will Christmas, as the Puritans thought, be saved from us and our sinful ways. So what if we spend $40 billion annually on presents. Can you think of a better way of spending all that money than on gifts of love. And most of them are just that. And so what is all the lights and tinsel does create a fairy tale setting that soon disappears as does the so called Christmas spirit. At least it lets us know, if only for a brief time, what life can be like if we only try.
So let the message ring out this day, not that we are destroying this holy day, but rather, that we can never destroy this day. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all generations. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.
Sermon Illustrations, 1999.
* Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
* Jonathan Swift said, “May you live all the days of your life!” Kahlil Gibran
* A good man is not a perfect man; a good man is an honest man, faithful, and unhesitatingly responsive to the voice of God in his life. John Fischer
* Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.- Soren Kierkegaard
This article “Thoughts On Christmas” by Greg Stone was excerpted from: The Pastor’s Page Newsletter. December 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”