Christmas is over…now what?-12/30/18

Message: ‘Christmas is over… now what?’

Text: Luke 2:15-20

Introduction:

If we could set aside the spiritual truths of the Christmas season for just a moment, what we’d generally see is that it’s fun and exciting for many people.

Generally most people start decorating their home about 2-4 weeks prior to Christmas.

  • They pick out a tree, decorate it.
  • They decorate their home, often both inside and out, with festive lights and all sorts of things that are both pretty, shiny, even memorable, such as a decoration given to you by a loved one.
  • It’s like playing dress-up with your home.

Then many exchange gifts and to see the smiles on peoples faces, especially the children, is priceless.

We can always count on lots and lots of pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram covering the whole Christmas season.

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Well, Facebook and Instagram don’t actually cover the whole Christmas season… what’s missing is what happens when Christmas is over.

I searched Facebook FOR LAST Christmas and I didn’t see any after-Christmas pictures.

  • No pics of taking down the tree and removing all the twinkling lights, snowman, Santa, angel and other decorations from all over your home… inside and out.
  • No pics of the huge trash pile outside your home with all the boxes the gifts came in.

That because many people experience what’s called the ‘Post-Christmas Blues.’ PP:

  • The sight of a dry, needleless, bare Christmas tree out by the curb.
  • Looking around and seeing your home back to ‘normal’.
  • While you might have had a few days off from work, it’s time to go back.
  • And to top it off, the Hallmark Channels ‘Countdown to Christmas 2018’ has ended.

The excitement that filled your home, your life, for the past few weeks has turned to a kind of sadness and discontentment.

  • And just in case you think I’m making this up. I found this yesterday on Facebook. And this says it all.

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But friends, it doesn’t have to be that way. At least not for those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

  • Because the Christmas season IS more than just the decorations, the tree, the gifts, time off from work and new original Hallmark Christmas movies.
  • There are spiritual truths associated with the Christmas season and they are all centered on JESUS!

Transition: So, Christmas is over… now what? Let’s look, one last time, at the Christmas Story in Luke 2 where we’ll find the Christmas season can be transformative, giving us perhaps a ‘new normal’ for life.

  1. Luke 2:15-16: The shepherds went

PP: Luke 2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Faith… The shepherds believed, they had faith.

  • They didn’t stand around looking at each other debating what to do.

They just said… Let us go over to Bethlehem and  see this thing that has happened.

  • The words used in that verse show the shepherds weren’t going to see if what the angel told them was true,
  • they were going because they believed it was true.

God told them something that was for them; truly amazing, yet, somewhat unbelievable. But they believed God and they went. And when they arrived at the manger in Bethlehem, God did not disappoint.

  • He gave them the assurance that when He speaks, He can be trusted.

But this assurance, this boost to their faith, was not just for the shepherds, it was another conformation that God was with Mary & Joseph as well.

  • Undoubtedly the shepherds told Mary & Joseph all that happened to them and what they were told by the angel concerning their baby boy.
  • And I bet Mary & Joseph told the shepherds all that happened to them, including what the angel told them about the baby, Jesus.
  • And amazingly, they dovetailed together.

The shepherds went to the manger in Bethlehem and not only was their faith bolstered, so was Mary & Josephs.

  • Let me just say, when we gather together here on Sundays and we actually come to encounter Jesus,
  • God will use our faith, to help build the faith, of those who join us here.

So, one way to avoid the ‘Post-Christmas Blues’, is by trusting God at His Word and by standing firmly in the faith God’s given to us as followers of Jesus Christ.

  1. Luke 2:17-18 The shepherds proclaimed

PP: Luke 2:17-18 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

They went in faith and obedience to the manger in Bethlehem to see the promised Messiah who would save the people from their sins and bring peace.

 

What did they do… after that? After they had a divine encounter with Messiah Jesus!

They told people.

  • They told people about being greeted by not just one but a multitude of angels while they were in the field watching their flock.
  • They told people what the angel said.
  • They told people that when they got to the manger in Bethlehem, they found exactly what the angel told them they would find.
  • And I’m sure they told people all that Mary & Joseph had told them about their own angelic visits.

They gave witness to what they had seen, heard and experienced that night in Bethlehem.

  • Because of their encounter with Jesus, these lowly shepherds became servants of God’s Word.

So, if you’ve had a life altering, transformational encounter with Jesus…

  • You too, have a responsibility to be a servant of God’s Word.
  • To tell people what you’ve seen, heard and experienced as a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

Another way to avoid the ‘Post-Christmas Blues’, is to tell people why Christmas is so much more to you than the tree, the decorations and the gifts.

  1. Luke 2:19 Mary pondered

PP: Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Every year we hear the same Christmas story;

  • Whether on Sunday mornings in church, in small groups, or on Christian radio

So much so that it’s easy to gloss over, let it go in one ear and out the other, w/o any real thought or concern.

We can avoid the ‘Post Christmas Blues’ by doing what Mary did…

  • Spend time pondering, reflecting on what you’ve seen and heard concerning the Jesus of the Christmas story.

ILL: Christian author and theologian C.S. Lewis wrote this: ‘We don’t need to be told new ideas so much as we need to be reminded of old truths.’

(Steven Sheane)

Truth be told, and let’s not kid ourselves, we make ourselves too busy for reflection, for pondering… and that makes us anemic Christians, it makes us spiritually weak and lethargic.

The word ponder in the text is much more than just thinking about something.

  • It means to bring together in your mind.

The idea is to have a conversation in your head about something so you can come to a conclusion.

In Mary’s case, she was pondering, discussing in her mind, all that God was showing her about

  • not just her and Joseph’s life,
  • not just the life of her baby,
  • but life for all people, for all time.

That’s some heavy stuff. But, it’s also life transforming stuff.

So, what should we be pondering as we come to the end of this Christmas season?

  • Yes, first and foremost the truth that God sent the baby Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem, to save us from our sin.

BUT, we can’t, like so many people do, think of Jesus, as just the baby in the manger in Bethlehem.

  • For when we do, we’ll not only suffer from the ‘Post-Christian Blues,’
  • We’ll not have the assurance of the forgiveness of our sin nor of our future home in heaven…

In other words, keeping our focus solely on the baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, will not make us right with God, will not save us.

So then, who is the Jesus beyond the manger? And what about Him should we ponder?

PP (2 Slides): Colossians 1:13-18 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:13–18)

  • That’s the Jesus who created all things.
  • That’s the Jesus who did for us what we could never do, live a perfect life w/o sin.
  • That’s the Jesus who gave His life and died on the cross to save us from our sin.
  • That’s the Jesus whom God raised from the dead.
  • That’s the Jesus who’s the author of life, eternal life.
  • That’s the Jesus who’s given us a seat at the table in His kingdom.
  • That’s the Jesus who’s sovereign over all things.
  • That’s the Jesus who’s the head of the Church, the Body of Christ.
  • That’s the Jesus who demands to be preeminent, to have first place in your heart, in your life.
  • And that’s the Jesus who was once a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem.

And all of that… is worth pondering. Friends, Jesus is worth treasuring in our hearts.

Let me ask, what is it that you’re treasuring in your heart? Seriously think about that.

  • What is it that’s of ultimate importance to you?

Here’s why I ask.

  • What’s ultimately important to you, what you treasure in your heart,
  • will define you, it will dominate you, it will dictate how you choose to live.

Because what you treasure in your heart will be the object of your true affection.

Jesus, later in Luke, will tell us For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)

For Mary in the Christmas story, her treasure was  Jesus.

Who or what is it for you? What is your treasure?

  • The Apostle Paul says that Jesus wants to be your treasure, He wants to be preeminent in your heart and life.

Conclusion: Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned

PP: Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And the shepherds returned… That means they went back to being shepherds.

  • They didn’t start giving seminars and workshops on how to have a divine encounter with an angel.
  • They didn’t send pieces of straw that the baby Jesus laid on to heal people.

They went back to the place God had called them. They went back to being shepherds.

But, they didn’t go back the same. They’d been transformed by the work of God in, around and through them.

They returned to the field to keep watch over their flocks by night,

  • but they did it with great joy,
  • they did it giving glory to God,
  • they did it praising God for all He had shown them that first Christmas day.
  • They did in with a new found sense of peace with God.

Too many Christians today live for the miraculous, for the spectacular, for the extra-ordinary work of God in their lives…

  • Please, I’m not saying that God doesn’t work in the spectacular or that we shouldn’t seek Him there.
  • I’m saying if that’s always our focus, we’ll miss God at work in the ordinary, in the regular, in just being shepherds… or whatever it is God has called you to.

I love how the Christmas story in Luke ends… and the shepherds returned.

ILL: Children in a church were putting on the Christmas play. To show the radiance of the newborn Savior, a light bulb was hidden in the manger. All the stage lights were to be turned off so that only the brightness of the manger could be seen. But the boy who controlled the lights got confused and all the lights went out.

It was a tense moment, broken only when one of the shepherds said in a loud stage whisper, “Hey! You switched off Jesus!” (Steve Cole)

That’s what happens when we leave the Christmas season to return to our normal lives not having been transformed by the Jesus of the Christmas story.

The challenge as we come to the end of the Christmas season and from what we’ve seen in our text is this:

Return to your norm: Whether it’s the classroom, the office, the factory, the job, the neighborhood, or to your family responsibilities.

  • Return like the shepherds; glorifying God, praising God, telling others about the Jesus who has transformed your life forever.
  • Return like Mary; pondering the truths of God’s Word; and treasuring Jesus in your heart.

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