DO THEY MATTER TO YOU?
Psalm 96: 7-12
LUKE 2: 15-20
CHRISTMAS EVE 2018
And, as the Christmas Shopping season of the year Two Thousand and Eighteen comes to a close … DO YOU KNOW WHAT CHRISTMAS is all about?
Ever since the Christmas of 1965, Linus … a simple cartoon figure has answered Charlie Brown’s frustration after Charlie was told that he was hopeless … Linus has shared with millions the message of this night. A night we are here to celebrate … an Angel declaring to working men in the field the most significant announcement of their lives.
“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people!” News that mattered that night … news that matters this night … a message of significance for young and for old. CHRISTMAS DAY does matter … CHRISTMAS is important … CHRISTMAS is a reflection of God’s love for ALL humanity not just a select few not just those shepherds not just those of us in this church and other churches tonight, God’s love through the gift of Jesus Christ was AND IS for all humanity; for all time and friends, tonight … tonight we should be so filled with joy that we want to jump and down and cheer and celebrate and seek the light of God beaming down to where we each can find Jesus today, tonight and tomorrow! The shepherds followed the star … are you willing to give it a try?
These events of the Christmas story, do they matter to you? Well they should … they need to … and our world most definitely needs to be reconnected with the Jesus story not just for a holiday gift giving day but for a transformation that is so desperately needed in our lives and in our world.
The psalmist had it right; GIVE TO THE LORD, all families of all the nations … give to the Lord glory! Bow down to the Lord!
Church … church …. when was the last time you considered the awesome and incredible power of God and felt the urge to just bow down to praise God’s Holy name? Tonight, my goodness tonight is such a night … tonight is such a wonderful celebration of joy that if … and I have to say if … if you understand that this day … if you understand tomorrow when we each are pausing in our busy lives to enjoy time with family and friends … if you get it … if you have Jesus in your heart and understand that God is God … then you get the fact that we should be bowing down to God; GOD who loved us so much that God sent Jesus Christ to show us that we don’t have to live lives that are under the direction of human powers but that there is a different path through God. Through God’s love.
Now, I really wish … oh do I really wish that I had the time tonight or perhaps that you had the patience tonight … or a few spare hours … to hear about the grown man Jesus Christ. You see Jesus the baby is but a moment but Jesus the Son of God is forever. Jesus came to bring humanity back to God but for whatever reason we continue to reject God … and to deny Jesus. It really isn’t about Merry Christmas it is about changing as God wants us to change.
So on this Christmas Eve we hear again the psalmist’s words: “Tell the nations the Lord rules! Let heaven celebrate! Let the earth rejoice! Let the countryside and everything in it celebrate! The Lord is coming to establish justice!”
Tonight, our two Christmas Eve services will be watched by friends in Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and throughout the United States. Your energy in worship … your passion during Silent Night will be beamed into living rooms, cruise ships, and other locations where people want to worship with you. Thank you friends on Facebook and those watching this service on our website for being there and sharing in our time with God.
But, this Christmas Eve night I want you to think about yourself for a moment.
Yes, I know that for many people Christmas is already one of the most selfish holidays with long wish lists for gifts of varying costs perhaps dependent on making that famous Good List maintained by an individual deemed a Saint of the church. I want you to pause right now … who are you? Who is God to you? Who is Jesus to you? Do God and Jesus really matter to you?
Now, I want you to think for a moment what if tonight is your last night … what would that mean? And, what is the last message that you have posted for the world and your friends to see on social media?
I lost a good friend just a few days ago. Bob Burns … Bob and I used to shop Christmas Eve morning together every single year; we would have done it today. Bob was an awesome loving man of faith.
Well, when Bob died one of the first things that I did was to go to Bob’s Facebook page to see what lasting message Bob had for the world. Now, friends, Bob and Patty live in Egg Harbor Township. I know that Bob had travelled to West Deptford but they had never been to this church but the last images that Bob Burns posted on FACEBOOK were these … pictures from the Christmas Carol sing along from this church. Bob was a radio talk show host, which meant he could have posted political stuff but he posted a church family he connected with from a distance celebrating the Christmas season.
Do the images and words you post on social media matter to you? Do you think that they matter to God? I am not all into the WWJD movement of the past but I often wonder what Jesus would think if he opened up my Facebook … my Twitter … my Instagram. Am I sharing a message consistent with the Gospels or something that counters it? Friends do your life moments matter on this Christmas Eve because I can tell you … we all expected Bob to live on, there were no signs, he just went home and sat with his wife laughing his laugh watching tv and then that was that. A lasting image on his social media was of this church in West Deptford … I just cried.
I have another story that I hope will be relevant to each of you tonight. Some of you may have noticed that on my wrist are colorful wrist bands … yes, I can do Christmas colors of Red and Green … Hanukkah too of Blue and white but it is the Green wristband that I want to tell you about.
15 years ago I was in Wildwood New Jersey and after sharing a presentation an older woman came up to me. She said she was impressed with my speech and had a gift for me. I said I couldn’t take a gift but then she said it was only a wristband. A simple green wristband. This wristband. I looked at it and noticed the words “Make Every Moment Matter.” I told her that I had a collection of the very same wrist bands that I was planning to give to my youth group at church … the wrist band was from an organization supporting Alzheimer research. She then asked … “Why aren’t you wearing one?”
She said that we each need a reminder in this life with all of its chaos and hate. All of our struggles and pressure where we face conflict and decisions that challenge us all the time. She said we need to be reminded that we are here to make every moment matter and asked would I be willing to wear it beginning that day. And, I said yes … it has come off of my wrist less than 20 times since that date and I stare at those words when I hurt … I stare at those words when I ache .. I look at those words when I feel sorry for myself or want something I can’t have and I try to make every moment matter.
So, tonight … on this Christmas Eve 2018 I think we all need to strive to make every moment matter. And, so when you leave here … I have a green bracelet for you to wear or to keep within eyesight. Maybe 15 years from now some of you will have only taken yours off a few times like me.
Those shepherds … oh those shepherds my friends. They were tired; exhausted, sweaty; and not exactly Holy Men. ”The Angel of the Lord came upon them saying I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
So, as the night turns into day and Christmas Eve changes into Christmas Day are you willing … because you are certainly able … to change the world by making the moments matter? That’s why God sent Jesus … to teach us that we had in it us to be difference makers and by giving us the directions.
We can change the world … we can take this Christmas gift of God’s to change who we are.
MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIENDS … JOY to the WORLD … the baby born more than 2000 years ago is our Savior … our Lord … our Master and the Teacher of Life!
REJOICE and CELEBRATE!
Watch a video of tonight’s service: