Let us pray: Dear Savior, sweep our hearts clean of sin and make us into new creations through Your saving blood. Cause us to get rid of the inner evil that clings to us and pull us into the bright sunshine of Your love. For only then will we be ready to appreciate Your glorious coming in the manger. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING KING
TEXT: Romans 13: 11-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Have you begun your holiday preparations? Have you put out the lights, or decorated a tree? Have you begun baking? And how is the Christmas gift shopping coming along? Do you have a list in hand? When I was a little boy there was no internet. We couldn’t go on-line to help draw up a list of our dream gifts. Instead, we had the Montgomery Wards Christmas catalogue. And I must confess that I paged through it, cover to cover, and dog-eared certain pages to give my parents hints.
So, what do you really want for Christmas this year? Don’t give me that old cliché about wanting to be surprised, either. I don’t believe anyone really wants fruitcake, socks, or underwear, even though many will receive such presents!
Although we’re taught to be thankful for any gift, and usually are on the surface, in your heart of hearts all of you have had Christmases when, after opening the presents, you felt a bit empty inside. No doubt, you felt guilty about it. But, the feeling was inescapable. You wanted something more. You just couldn’t put your finger on it. Today I want to address that feeling of emptiness in order that your Advent and Christmas may truly be meaningful this year. So, let’s now consider:
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS: SOMETHING MORE….
Although Christmas is a religious holiday, the secular elements to it have seemingly taken over.—And not for the better. Society today doesn’t revel in going to church and singing carols of joy to God. Most Americans don’t consider it a “merry Christmas” if they can only go to church, peer into the manger, and rejoice. That’s just too simplistic, and it doesn’t fit the Madison Avenue hype, does it? It doesn’t keep the economy humming. And so the simplicity of Christmas has been replaced and Advent forgotten. Office parties, too much alcohol, abundant food, and crass materialism have become the rule for having a merry Christmas. And with all that comes the drunken sexual advances, downright gluttony, and the satiating of the senses. The birthday of God’s Son has become an Epicurean’s delight. Remember their motto: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” And with that binge of sensory overload comes slumber. No, I’m not talking about sleep, either. I’m talking about spiritual slumber.
St. Paul addresses this when he writes: “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, (which is a life of excess) not in dissension and jealousy.”
The cops know that more family disputes occur during the Christmas season than at any other time of the year. Drunk people are not rational. Family squabbles pop up over the littlest thing.—(Stressed people are not rational.) Jealousy over gifts, or the lack of the right one, abound. And down deep, when it is all over, how many people feel a bit empty inside as a result? Did you know that the suicide rate is highest between Thanksgiving and New Years? Against that backdrop our theme starts to take on new meaning.—All I Want For Christmas Is: Something More….
I’ve quizzed some of you, and I’ve discovered that Sunday night is often your hardest time of the entire week. That’s because you’re gearing up for another week at work and you know how much it will take out of you. Likewise, nighttime is often hard, as well. It’s dark, you’re tired, and issues that fade in daylight often seem insurmountable during the nighttime hours. Paul knew that, too. That’s why he tells us to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” How do we do that on a specific evening when we’re down, or during a specific holiday, or even during a lifetime? Well, he now tells us. “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Christ is the Light of the world. In Him there is no darkness at all! He came to earth and was born in humbleness in order to show us the true meaning to life.—Humility leads to understanding of life and understanding leads to appreciation of even the tiniest of blessings and appreciation leads to exaltation. He proved that, God proved that to us. For from the manger came the Lord of life who suffered for us, died for us, and was exalted for us. And now through faith in Him, He clothes us with His robe of light, His armor, His force-field, which protects us from the darkness. Yes, in Him alone do we find that “something more” we’re all looking for.—True, perfect, unconditional love which can never be taken away.
The season of Advent, or preparation for our celebration of Christ’s birth, is a human invention begun over the centuries and refined by the Christian church. There’s a reason behind it. In fact, the truth of our text lies behind it. That is, if you really want a blessed Christmas that fills you with joy, you need to take time to properly prepare your hearts to meet that “Something More” on the night of December 24th. Even though your decorations may be perfect, your outfit snazzy, your gifts, both given and received, sublime; you’ll be left empty inside if Christ’s birth is relegated to an afterthought. So, today, the 1st Sunday of Advent, sweep your hearts clean from worldly darkness, put on the Babe’s armor of light, and discover the truth behind Christmas which is: Christ is that something more….Amen