This Is What Christmas Means

This Is What Christmas Means

Luke 2: 8-14


In 1858 a scientific expedition passed through the part of our country we know as the Grand Canyon.
A young lieutenant made this entry in his report:
"This region... is... altogether valueless.
It can be approached only from the South, and after leaving it, there is nothing to do but leave.
It... shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed
."

In 1863 when Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, a newspaper editor in Harrisburg wrote:
"We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation, we are willing
that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be
repeated or thought of
."

Over 2000 years ago a baby was born in a little village called Bethlehem.
Neither the Roman Reporter nor the Bethlehem Daily News picked up the story.
Life went on as normal; and if a reporter had interviewed the citizens of Bethlehem the next
morning they would have agreed:
"Nothing significant happened last night. It was just another night."

What is the thread of continuity that ties these stories together?
It is the unawareness and insensitivity to the significance of the events to which they were exposed.
History has proven these commentators to be wrong.

  • The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited sights in America.
  • The Gettysburg Address has been one of the most memorized addresses ever given.
  • And that relatively unknown birth of a babe in Bethlehem has proven to be the most
        significant moment in history.
    The event of the birth of Christ has divided history into B.C. and A.D.
    The irony of ironies, the shepherds have been exalted as the heroes who first recognized
    the true meaning of Christmas.

    There are two reasons that Christmas meant something to these shepherds.
    Christmas took on meaning for them because they saw Christ.
    The signs were there for others to see, but only the shepherds were sensitive enough to discern them.

    Arnold Toynbee has pointed out the reason: "Because the nature of the work of
    the shepherds puts them alone in the outdoors, out near the simplicity of existence and away
    from the distraction of artificial sophistication.
    In their environment they cultivated the art of reflecting in depth on life
    ."

    The shepherds discerned the presence of God that night, and then went and worshiped the Christ.
    In the midst of the tinsel and glitter, the hoopla and festivities, if you can see Christ,
    then Christmas will mean something to you.

    "Something wonderful happens at Christmas.
    There's a spirit of joy in the air.
    There's a neighborly feeling for others
    That seems to touch hearts everywhere.

    Something wonderful happens at Christmas.
    An intangible something, but still -- it's as real
    As the steeple bells chiming glad tidings of peace and good will.
    Its as real as a "Babe" in a manger and a radiant star high above.

    Something wonderful happens at Christmas!
    Christmas took on meaning for the shepherds because they shared Christ.
    The Bible says, "And when they had seen this, they made known the statement
    which had been told them about this child
    ." (Luke 2: 17, NASB)
  • Christmas will take on meaning for you not by receiving but by giving.
  • Christmas will take on meaning for you not by decorating your house with lights,
         but by coming into the presence of the light, who is Christ.
    Then most importantly, share that light with the world.
    The world is in darkness, but we have seen the light.
    This Christmas season let us allow the light of Christ to shine through us.

    The sight and sounds of the season are so familiar that we sometimes fail to notice them.
    Take a good look again at the Nativity scene, and you will see the meaning of Christmas.
    The shepherds were rugged men, struggling against odds to make a living.
    To these common men, something extraordinary happened on an ordinary evening,
    which turned out to be extraordinary.
    The Angels sang to them.
    Heaven took notice of them.

    The supreme meaning of Christmas is that God gave Himself to us.
    The supreme challenge of Christmas is that we give ourselves to God.
    And then help others to see Him as He is.

    Saint Francis of Assissi prayed:

    "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
    Where there is hate, let me bring love;
    Where offense, may I bring pardon;
    May I bring union in place of discord;
    Truth replacing error;
    Faith, where once there was doubt;
    Hope, for despair;
    Light where there was darkness;
    Joy to replace sadness.

    Make may not so crave to be loved as to love.
    Help me to learn that in giving I may receive,
    And in forgetting self, I may find life eternal."

    That is the spirit of Christmas!

    Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White