An Old Fashioned Christmas

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 8-21
Subject: Christ, Birth of; Christmas; Birth of Jesus
Introduction

Everyone loves an old-fashioned Christmas; however, the idea of being old-fashioned is always changing. What is old-fashioned to one generation will be different for the next. To celebrate Christmas in an truly old-fashioned way, let's go all the way back to the beginning.

December 25 has long been celebrated for its relationship to light. Back in A.D. 274 an emperor of the old Roman world chose December 25 as "the birthday of the unconquered sun." He recognized that at this midwinter date the sun it reaches its lowest point in the southern sky and begins its gradual movement northward again. The annual rebirth of nature was closely linked to the Roman new year and planting season. Houses were decorated with greenery and candles, and presents were given to children and the poor. In time, Christians made this a holy day of their own. By A.D. 336, the church had decided that all believers should celebrate the birthday of the Lord Jesus, the Son of righteousness, on December 25.

We may not know the exact day Jesus was born, but we know the reason He was born. He said that He came into the world to seek that which was lost. To celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas, we must go all the way back to that night long ago when shepherds first heard that a Savior was born. There were some elements in that first Christmas which ought to be in our Christmas this year and every year for the children of God..

I. An Old Fashioned Christmas Lifts the Head

We need to be lifted from the mundane to the miraculous. Our focus is too often fixed upon the sinful, sick, sad results of human sin. The evening news is filled with stories of murder and mayhem, war and want, politics and party strife.

Things were no different on that night in tiny Bethlehem when angels visited the shepherds. The nation of Israel was occupied by Roman soldiers. A godless, uncaring king sat upon the throne in Jerusalem. Tax collectors defrauded the people of their hard-earned and much-needed incomes. Disease and demon possession were everywhere. Hypocritical religious leaders had control of the worship. Things were very bleak indeed for the citizens of Israel on that night when angels appeared in the sky. Don't get the idea in your head or heart that the first Christmas was so idyllic, postcard kind of circumstance. People were living in very dark and difficult times, just like you and I are living in today.

The heads of the shepherds who were out in the fields tending their sheep were suddenly uplifted from their dismal circumstances to hear and see the heavenly announcement of the birth of the King. They were abruptly transformed from the common to the celestial. Christmas is to remind us that life is more than shopping malls, news reports of death and corruption, family strife and getting just what we want wrapped in a multicolored box. Christmas is about changing our focus from the natural to the supernatural, from the secular to the spiritual, from the worldly to the worshipful aspects of life!

A man became so intoxicated one night that he stumbled and fell through the open door of a stable. He woke up the next morning bewildered by his strange surroundings. Finally it dawned on him where he was. He was very hungry, and he tried to think of a neighbor who might give him a meal. "No," he muttered, "I'm afraid they'd say I've fallen too low." Just then he heard some bells ringing, and he suddenly realized it was Christmas Day. What was that story again about the shepherds, the manger, and the angels' message? He thought, I'm not the first one to sleep in a stable. Recalling his early training about Christ who had come into the world to save the lost, he wondered if the reason Jesus first appeared in a stable was to remind the world that he could help a poor fellow like him. Right there he knelt in the straw and prayed, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." That poor drunkard found God in a manger. His awful circumstances had been transformed to astonishing circumstances. That is exactly why Jesus came.

A woman who did a great deal of reading and research began to have difficulty with her vision, so she decided to consult an eye doctor. After a thorough examination he said, "Madam, your eyes are extremely tired. They need rest."

"But that's impossible," she replied. "My work demands that I use them all the time."

After reflecting for a moment, the doctor said, "Have you any wide views of the countryside from your home?"

"Oh, yes!" she answered with enthusiasm. "From the front porch I can see the noble peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and from the windows in the back of the house I can enjoy the glorious Allegheny foothills."

"That's just what you need," replied the specialist. "The next time you experience visual fatigue, gaze steadily at your mountains for 10 minutes - 20 would be better - and the far look will rest your eyes!"

That is what we need today. We need to lift up our eyes and see beyond the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. An old-fashioned Christmas will lift your head.

II. An Old Fashioned Christmas Unites the Hands

Whatever may have divided the shepherds that night was quickly forgotten. Race, income, grudges and the like were swept away in the glory of being told that a Savior had been born.

The message of Christmas is “Peace on earth.” This peace is ours when we turn our hearts and heads toward Christ. If we do this, we will find ourselves forgetting ourselves and uniting in love and worship. The shepherds said to one another, “Let us go and see this thing which has come to pass.” They were united in wonder, united in purpose, united in desire!

Christmas should cause us to lay aside the things which may divide us and turn to the One who unites us. This is a wonderful time to bury an old grudge, forget a injury done to you by someone yesterday or long ago. After all, think of how much God loved you when He sent His Son knowing what we would do to Him! Yet He loved us that much. No wonder the shepherds joined hands and went together to see the Christ child.

If you experience an old-fashioned Christmas, it will be one that causes you to lay down old grudges. You will forget about yourself and turn to the Savior who did not hold your sin against you, but came to redeem and forgive you.

III. An Old Fashioned Christmas Bends the Knees

They came to the manger and there they worshipped the Lord. They bowed their knee to Him. We know this because of the worship that was in their hearts when they departed.

An old-fashioned Christmas will cause you to respond to the melodic invitation, “O come let us adore Him.” Christmas should cause us to pause on bended knee and gaze in wonder at the manner of love God has bestowed upon us. I expect many Christians spend less time in prayer during December than any other month. We are so busy rushing to and fro that it is easy to forsake time in prayer. Spend some time like the shepherds of the Bethlehem fields. Bow down and worship Him.

IV. An Old Fashioned Christmas Loosens the Tongue

As the shepherds left the manger, they noised abroad what they had heard and seen. They could not be quiet. Christmas is a time for voices to sing, for bells to ring, for Christians to bring to the world the message, “Unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.”

Christmas is a great time for making a new commitment to be a witness for our Lord. If we have been silent, let us speak up for Him. The night of Christ’s birth has been called a Silent Night, but it was also a night of angels announcing and singing, and shepherds going and telling. “Go tell it on the Mountain,” is a fitting hymn for us at Christmastime! This is especially important at a time when the world is trying to shut Christ out of Christmas. Schools often forbid any celebration of Christmas. In fact, many schools will not allow the word Christmas to be used. Songs that even remotely refer to Jesus are deemed offensive. Well, let us sing and testify to His greatness. Never let your voice be silenced in regard to the greatness and wonder of the Son of God born in the Bethlehem manger.

During the Christmas season of 1879, an agnostic reporter in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of them was blind. Coming closer, he heard the other two trying to describe the playthings to their friend. He said he had never thought of how difficult it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who has never been able to see. That incident became the basis for a newspaper story. Two weeks later this same agnostic attended a meeting conducted by Dwight L. Moody. His purpose was to catch the evangelist in some inconsistency. He was greatly surprised, therefore, when Moody used his newspaper account of the three children to illustrate a spiritual truth. "Just as the blind girl couldn't visualize the toys," said the preacher, "so an unsaved person can't see Christ in all His glory." He said that God opens the eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sin and accepts the Savior in humble faith. The newsman saw his need and discovered for himself the truth of Moody's words.

V. An Old Fashioned Christmas Stirs the Heart

As this portion of the story unfolds, we find the shepherds rejoicing and praising God. They are stirred in their hearts and it rises to their lips. Christmas is a time for praising God for His unspeakable gift. It is a time when Christians may suddenly, while singing a familiar Christmas carol, find a moist tears rolling down their faces. It is a time when we should be stirred to rejoice over what the Lord has done for us. We might be like the little child saying his prayers one Christmas night who suddenly looked up, and with a gurgle of laughter, said “I almost wished God a Merry Christmas!”

Conclusion

A five-year-old had one line in a kindergarten Christmas play, appearing in an angel's garb to say, "I bring you good tidings!"

After many rehearsals, the lad asked his mother what were "tidings." She explained tidings were news. The performance began and the little angel became flustered. After a long embarrassing silence, he blurted out, "Hey, I’ve got news for you!"

That is the correct message in an old-fashioned Christmas - Hey, I’ve got news for you! Jesus loves you, and that is why He came to be a baby in a manger and died as the Savior on a cross for your sins and mine!