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Celebrating Christmas

11 Dec

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Do you put out Christmas lights and try to have the brightest, most colorful house on the block? Or do you have trouble just getting the lights untangled?

Do you attend Christmas activities like the Nutcracker Ballet or drive through the Bright Nights at Forest Park? Or do you approach the season with the “Bah, Humbug” of Ebenezer Scrooge?

Do you use NORAD’s Santa Tracker to follow Santa Clause’s deliveries? Or do you have the conviction that Christians should not promote Santa at all?

Do you use an Advent calendar, a story like Jotham’s Journey, or a Nativity set to teach the meaning of Christmas? Do you enjoy a festive family feast with traditional delights on Christmas Day? Or do you skip the meal and instead serve at a homeless shelter or the Springfield Rescue Mission on that day?

Do you exchange gifts with others? Or give donations to a cause such as Angel Tree or the Salvation Army instead?

How do you celebrate Christmas?

The story of Anna in Luke 2:36-38 provides us with a model of how to celebrate Christmas. Her example teaches us that we can celebrate Christmas best by praising God for Jesus and telling others about him.

Anna was a godly senior citizen. She was married for seven brief years and was a widow for the rest of her life. Anna chose a lifetime of service over remarriage. She was known for teaching the Scriptures.

Anna lived with a sense of expectation. She was part of the remnant looking for the Messiah. Anna knew her only hope was in the mercy and grace of God.

Anna demonstrated single-minded devotion. She made the temple her permanent home. Anna was not idle, but made worship, prayer, and fasting her chief occupation.

Anna was in tune with God. In God’s providential timing, she was in the temple near where Simeon stood as he blessed Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (Luke 2:25-35). Without an invitation, Anna approached the baby Jesus just as Simeon had done. She recognized what God was doing in the person of this child.

Anna responded with praise. She gave thanks to God. Anna’s long years of passionately petitioning God gave way to an outburst of joyous praise.

Anna responded by telling the good news to others. She did much more than sing praises and give thanks. Anna turned to the other worshippers and announced that the Messiah had come. She could not stop talking about Jesus.

Like Anna, we can celebrate Christmas best by praising God for Jesus and telling others about him.

Look for opportunities to praise God during the season of Advent. Consider making the commitment to not criticize or complain during December. Instead, look forward with confidence to what God will do in your future. Find something new each day to give thanks for. Give praise each day for a different aspect of God’s character. Study the prophecies about Jesus and give thanks for how God kept his promises. Read the five songs of praise in Luke 1 & 2 (Elizabeth, Mary, Zechariah, angels, Simeon). Celebrate Christmas by praising God.

Look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Consider hosting a birthday party for Jesus and inviting the neighborhood children to attend. Deliver cookies to your neighbors along with a gospel tract. Go caroling to shut ins. Ask God to open your eyes to someone in need. Give a gift without expecting one in return because of what Jesus did for you. Celebrate Christmas by telling others about Jesus.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 11, 2016. It is part of a collection of messages on Christmas. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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