How to Celebrate Christmas
Preached at Main Street Church on December 24th, 2017
Our Problem: Sometimes we forget what we are celebrating (Christmas sneaks up on us like that)
Proposition: Since Christmas commemorates the coming of Christ, we must celebrate it intentionally.
- Celebrate Well
- Celebrate With
- Celebrate Worshipfully
- Celebrate Well
We ought to celebrate well.
- Reason 1: There are times and occasions in life that ought to be celebrated
- I’m not saying that we should always be celebrating, or always be happy, etc. but when it’s time to celebrate, we should celebrate well.
- Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
- Reason 2: God commanded his people to celebrate (not about Christmas, but the principle of celebration)
- Exodus 34:22 “You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks” (This shows us something about about God’s commands not being burdensome)
- Exodus 12:14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations,”
- I spent about an hour trying to figure out how many days a year the ancient Israelites spent celebrating and it was too much for me to add up!
- God built in regular celebrations to his people’s lives (this shows us about God)
- Reason 3: We have the greatest things to celebrate
- Every time God commanded his people to celebrate it had a reason; it was because of something He had done. And the extravagance of the celebration matched the thing they were celebrating. We are the same way…
- You got a promotion at work? Let’s go out to dinner.
- You’re having a baby? Let’s shower you with gifts.
- You’re getting married? Let’s get all dressed up and throw a huge party with all the family and friends.
- God came to earth as a baby? Put a tree in your house, put lights outside your house, decorate everything, sing songs, eat too many cookies, spend your whole paycheck on gifts for everyone, and celebrate your socks off!
- God is super in to celebrating, because everything he does is worth celebrating
- Matthew 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,”
- In Luke 15 Jesus gives 3 illustrations of the kingdom of God: Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. While the subject matter of these stories varies, the result is the same in everyone, when what was once lost gets found, they throw a huge celebration.
- Luke 15:7 “Just so I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
- Luke 15:32 “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”
- When I say “celebrate well” I mean GO BIG in your celebrating
- This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money
- It does mean intentionally taking time to celebrate
- Have a special meal, decorate, practice traditions
- If you don’t have any traditions, make some
- I’m not saying that to celebrate Christmas you have to do it the traditional way with a tree and gifts and stockings, but you should celebrate the birth of Jesus well.
- Celebrate With
When we celebrate, not only should we celebrate well, but we ought to celebrate with…
- Reason 1: God has designed us to celebrate with others
- Our Joy is best experienced when it is shared. That is part of the reason God has built into our calendar weekly times of meeting together and celebrating Him.
- Leviticus 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.”
- The word convocation was most popular around the 1800’s, but a convocation is a large assembly of people; it is a gathering with others
- Hebrews 10:23-24 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,”
- So part of the way God has designed us is that we experience joy the best when we share that joy with others, so we should celebrate with others.
- Reason 2: There is no such thing as a solo celebration
- Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” (People who don’t think we should celebrate holidays…)
- Pentecost was one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and people flooded Jerusalem to be there for it.
- The more people, the better the celebration.
- My best memories are of the holidays where I was with more of my family and friends (story of being in Korea with no family around)
- Acts 2:42, 44 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”
- Celebrating necessitates being together. We ought to celebrate Christmas with others
- Do your best to be with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus
- If you know someone who has no one to celebrate Christmas with, consider having them celebrate with you
- If you can’t physically be with people in your life, reach out through a phone call, a Christmas card, or a box of Omaha steaks…
- Ask God for peace in the messiness of celebrating with others
- Celebrate Worshipfully
Finally, this Christmas I challenge you not only to celebrate well and celebrate with, but to celebrate worshipfully.
- Reason 1: Everything we do should be done as an act of worship
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Reason 2: God intends for our celebrations to be worshipful
- Numbers 29:12 “You shall have a holy convocation…and you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days.” (Feast of Booths)
- Example: who is the birthday cake for? (Jesus)
- Reason 3: God deserves our worshipful celebration
- Numbers 10:10 “On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder to you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”
- Maybe this means including family prayer or reading a Scripture passage about the birth of Jesus in your family traditions.
- If you’re in the home of a family or friend who aren’t believers you don’t need to force these things on them if they don’t want to do them, but you could ask, and you can certainly worship internally.
- When you eat your Christmas meal think about how we will feast in heaven because Jesus came to the earth as a baby so that he might one day die on a cross for sins so that we could know him and be saved.
- When you open up your gifts on Christmas morning, as you peel away the wrapping paper think about what a beautiful and sacrificial gift it was for God to give us the gift of his Son.
- When you sit in the midst of beautiful Christmas decorations rejoice at the beauty that God is going to restore when Jesus returns.
- When we celebrate Christmas we should celebrate well, celebrate with, and celebrate worshipfully.
- And the reason we should celebrate and rejoice is because Jesus has come.
- There is a popular Christmas carol that tells us this: Joy to the World
- But something interesting about this song is that one word has been changed in it that has totally changed our understanding of it
- When Isaac Watts wrote the hymn he didn’t intend it to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but he intended it to celebrate the fact that Jesus reigns and is going to return to the earth someday.
- So the word that often gets changed is in the very first line of the song: Nowadays we sing: Joy to the world the Lord HAS come, but the song’s original lyrics say: Joy to the world the Lord IS come.
Joy to the world the Lord is come / Let earth receive her king / Let every heart prepare Him room / And Heaven and nature sing
Joy to the earth / The Savior reigns / Let men their songs employ / While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains / Repeat the sounding joy
No more let sins and sorrows grow / Nor thorns infest the ground / He comes to make his blessings flow / Far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace / And makes the nations prove / The glories of His righteousness / And wonders of His love
- So when we think about how to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, let us celebrate not only that Jesus has come, but let us also celebrate that since he has come, he will come again.