When should we celebrate Christmas? The world has a schedule for Christmas, and it is upside down. Christmas does not end on December 26. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us – every day. Christ can arrive in our lives every day. Are we expecting his arrival? Because today is Christmas!
Upside Down Christmas 4 – Upside Down Schedule
Sermon Notes by Marshal Blessing
Welcome to Redemption Church.
Are you ready for Christmas? How are preparations going? Check list:
Shopping, Decorations, Cards, Presents wrapped, Christmas cookies, Office parties, Day planned out?
As we discussed last week Christmas takes a lot of preparation…
People have started preparing for next Christmas already. Everybody knows the best day to buy Christmas cards and decorations is the day after Christmas. Also, we have to start paying off those credit card bills so we’ll have credit to use in time for next Christmas.
Last week we talked about preparing for Christmas. If you missed it, it’s posted on our website. Check it out and share it with someone.
This week I want to talk about the schedule of Christmas. We often get our Christmas schedule upside down.
Upside down Schedule
When do you take down your Christmas decorations? I saw a neighbor hauling out his tree.
When is it appropriate to take down Christmas lights? When does HOA make you take them down?
When is it appropriate for stores to start putting up Christmas decorations?
That is the schedule of the Christmas season these days. We complain that Christmas music and Christmas decorations are showing up earlier and earlier. We hustle through the season until December 25.
Then it’s over, and we pack it away in a relatively short time to get ready for the next thing… NEW YEARS!
And we shake our head at those families that still have their Christmas decorations out in January.
At least, that is the secular world’s schedule, but it is easy for us as Christians to fall into that.
We tend to treat Christmas as an event; an occasion; a onetime thing. It happens. Then it’s over,
and we move on.
Did anyone else have a strange, anti-climactic feeling on Thursday night? Maybe it was just me.
But I found myself thinking “Huh. That was it. All that build up, and now Christmas is over.”
Let me tell you, that’s wrong. Christmas is not an event. Christmas is not over.
If what you’re doing, if what you’re celebrating happens and then it ends, and you move on,
it’s not Jesus. That’s not Christmas.
Christmas is not an occasion; Christmas is a transition.
Things aren’t the same after Jesus is born. It was true then and it is true now.
Mary and Joseph didn’t leave the stable the day after Jesus was born and go back to their everyday life.
I’m finding out from personal experience, when you have a baby life is never the same afterward.
That’s true for any baby, but it is especially true for the Christ child. After Jesus’ birth the world wouldn’t be the same. History wouldn’t be the same. Our relationship with the eternal God wouldn’t be the same.
Christmas is a transition. That’s why our years are counted from his birth.
There was a time B.C. – before Christ. And now everything has changed we’re about to enter the two thousand and fifteenth year of our Lord. A.D. –Anno Domini that’s Latin for “Year of our Lord”
The universe changed when Jesus was born, and the people who set up our current system for numbering years wanted to reflect that.
When Jesus arrives, things change. That was true at the first Christmas, and it is true today.
When Jesus shows up in your life, things change. When a new person comes to faith in Christ, and Jesus is born in their heart, things change. When He appears it changes everything.
1 John 3:2 NIV Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
If what you were celebrating on Thursday didn’t change your world, then you were celebrating the wrong thing. You’ve gotten something upside down.
When was Jesus Born?
Some would say that we’ve gotten things upside down because Jesus wasn’t born on December 25.
They’re probably right.
When I was younger, I was always a little confused about when Jesus was born. In my mind He was born at night, because that’s how it’s always depicted. The shepherds were in their fields at night, and the angels talked to them the moment Jesus came into the world. But was he born before dawn on December 25 or after sunset? Was he really born on December 24 and December 25 was his first full day in the world? How did they know what time it was? I wasn’t even aware that the Jews count days differently than we do, starting at sunset. Or that they used a different calendar than we have today. That would have really blown my mind.
But really, these questions were all silly. I was mainly interested because I wanted to know exactly when I was entitled to access my presents. I wasn’t really interested in accurately celebrating Jesus’ birth, and it is unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25 anyway.
December 25 was established by the church as the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but the selection of that date wasn’t based on anything scriptural.
Scholars have tried to go back and figure out when Jesus was born based on the information recorded in the Bible. They have looked at details about the circumstances surrounding His birth, like shepherds sleeping in the fields at night. They have tried to figure out what the star was and when it would have appeared in the sky.
And they have gone back and looked at prophecy. But they have never come up with a conclusive date.
The date wasn’t recorded because the specific date doesn’t matter. What matters is that He was born.
He wasn’t born on a special day; His birth made that day special.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is good to have a special day set aside to celebrate His birth, and the 25th of December is as good a day as any other. If people who don’t know Jesus recognize that as a holiday, and it gets them thinking about Him, then it’s good.
But if it gives a box to check that we have celebrated Christ for the year, then that’s upside down.
Jesus doesn’t want just one day of our lives for a birthday party. Jesus wants to be born in our lives every day.
Instead, unfortunately, we can tend to develop a Christmas Card Faith
How many of you still send Christmas cards? I would think that it would be a vanishing tradition in this digital age, but the amount of cards in the stores and the lines at the post office tell me otherwise.
For those of you who still send Christmas cards, do you have people on your Christmas card list that you rarely talk to during the year? I do. I have people I haven’t spoken to in years. And I feel bad because we used to be fairly close. But if the only time you hear from me is when I send you a Christmas card, do we really have a relationship anymore?
Sometimes there are people in our lives that we would like to contact, but we just don’t think of them during the rest of the year. And when we do think of them other things come up. But we still send them a Christmas card, to let them know we’re thinking about them.
Do we do this to God? Do we go to church on Christmas and Easter and forget about him the rest of the year? Do we go to church on Sunday and forget about him the rest of the week? We would like to take time to pray and read his Word, but we just don’t think about it. And when we do remember, we don’t have time, other things come up…
Christmas isn’t meant to be the one time of year that we think about Jesus. If you’re hearing this message and you realize that you’ve begun to develop a Christmas card faith with God, make a change. Use that as a starting point to build a new relationship with Him.
Sometimes I have to contact people on my Christmas card list to verify their address. But when I email them or call them we start talking and start to reconnect. You can reconnect with God today; just don’t let it end today.
Work to stay connected.
Instead of a Christmas card faith. We should be in constant contact with God. I can still give a Christmas card to my wife, but it is almost unnecessary, because I talk to her every day. I could wish her “Merry Christmas” every day of the year. And we should be in touch with God every day. We should be celebrating Jesus every day. We can still go to church for the special celebrations, but more importantly, we are connecting with Him every day in between.
Is Christmas Here?
Christmas cards are a very adult approach to Christmas. I prefer the way small children approach Christmas. Before they understand calendars, little children understand two things about Christmas:
Christmas is coming, and Christmas is awesome! Around the middle of January they’ll start asking, “Is Christmas here? When will it be Christmas again?” Every time they play with the present they got, it will remind them: Christmas. “Is it Christmas?” They’re in a constant state of hopeful expectation. Are we?
We live at an interesting time in history. Jesus has come, and we are waiting for Him to come again.
So should we be celebrating that He was here, or preparing for Him to be here? Why not both?
The upside down world we live in wants to act like He was never here, and He’s never coming.
Sometimes we can fall into that upside down mentality. Christmas day is near the end of the year, so for most of the year, He hasn’t come yet. The reality that He is Emanuel – God with us – isn’t reflected in our lives. And we live like He is never coming back. We know there are things we should be doing, but we’re too busy, and His return seems so far off, we can worry about it later. Do you see how that is upside down?
Jesus Christ is born! He is HERE! And He is coming back sooner than we might expect!
I used to walk around the neighborhood with my mom and look at all the Christmas decorations. And we would make special note of the Nativity scenes, because people shouldn’t put Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene until after Christmas. It was okay for the wise men and the shepherds to get there early, but Jesus doesn’t arrive until Christmas!
Looking back, that was kind-of upside down. Why can’t Jesus arrive today? Why can’t this be Christmas?
PSALM 118:24 NASB This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Celebrate Him every day. He has been God with us since the day He was born, and He still is today!
Christmas isn’t over. Is Christmas here for you today?
At the same time, we always be waiting for and preparing for the next Christmas.
LUKE 2:25 NIV Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
LUKE 2:26 NIV It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
LUKE 2:27 NIV Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required,
Now this was some time after the day Jesus was born. But this was Christmas for Simeon.
LUKE 2:28 NIV Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
LUKE 2:29 NIV “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
LUKE 2:30 NIV For my eyes have seen your salvation,
LUKE 2:31 NIV which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
LUKE 2:32 NIV a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon had waited his whole life to see the Messiah. He was in touch with the Holy Spirit. And he lived in a state of hopeful expectation that any day could be the day he would see Lord’s Christ.
God had revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. ***MUSICIAN***
Now, I like the Jacksonville Jaguars (for some reason), but if God promised me that I am not going to die until I see them win the Super Bowl, I probably wouldn’t watch too many more Super Bowls, at least if Jacksonville was playing. I don’t mean to suggest that football is anywhere near as significant as the birth of Jesus. I just picked that example because Jacksonville winning the Super Bowl and a virgin birth seem about equally probable. The difference is that a virgin birth has actually happened once.
Anyway, Simeon’s whole life was focused on Jesus. He was waiting every day to meet Him. He was constantly listening to God and preparing in case this was the day he would see the Messiah.
Do we live like this? Shouldn’t we?
You’re going to see Jesus too. We’re all going to meet Him. Are you getting prepared?
Today is Christmas! Go tell it on the mountain! Jesus Christ is born! The King has come!
Today we’re preparing for Christmas! Christmas is coming! Jesus is coming back!
Is Christmas present in your life today? Are you willing to welcome Christ into your life today?
It doesn’t matter what season it is. Every day is a day to celebrate Christ’s arrival. Every day is a day that Christ can arrive in our hearts.
Colossians 2:15 NIV And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
He has disarmed the powers and authorities. He has triumphed over the schedule of this world. Will you receive Him today?
He is here today, and you have the opportunity to reach out to Him. These altars are open. Will you let this be Christmas in your life today? Come and talk to Him. Maybe you need to reconnect with Him, let today be the day. Today can be the day everything changes, if you will step out on faith and reach out to Him today.
[Never too late – final seconds]
[Don’t leave Him here – Don’t pack Him away. Go tell it! Celebrate Him!]