A Christmas That Matters part 1
Making Christmas Matter In Your Home
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 28, 2010
Here we are, less than four weeks away from Christmas. For some of you,
that’s shocking. For others, you have been in the Christmas mode for a
while now. I know the Mall took advantage of being closed on
Remembrance Day and used that time to put up all their Christmas
decorations and start playing Christmas music. So some of you have been
in that Christmas mindset for a few weeks now. Others of you are just
getting revved up and kind of bracing yourself for the next month.
you know what? It’s going to come and go so fast. It’s going to be over
before you know it. We cram so much into just a three or four-week span
of time and it just flies by. And the danger of the whole thing is that
you end up rushing here and there doing everything you’re supposed to
do at Christmas time, and you shift into cruise control, and you go
through all the holiday motions… and when it’s over it’s over. You
haven’t really experienced Christmas; it just kind of happened. And
you’re left wondering, “What was the point of it all?”
want that to happen to you. I want this to be a Christmas that matters
for you… a Christmas that you truly experience… a Christmas that makes
a difference in your life… a Christmas when you make a difference in
the lives of others. I don’t want this to be yet another Christmas
where you get wrapped up in all the trappings of the season; I want
this to be a Christmas where you truly discover what Christmas is all
about… how it’s the celebration of the day God became man… how Jesus
was born as a baby, and how He came to bring up hope, peace, joy, and
love… how that little baby that was born that day grew up to become the
sacrifice so we could experience the forgiveness of God and receive
I also want this to be a Christmas where your
relationships are enriched… where your family grows stronger and your
friendships grow deeper. I want this to be a Christmas where you get
beyond yourself and learn to express love and compassion toward others…
where you care about the poor, the outcast, the marginalized… where you
reach out to those living in the periphery of society and do something
to help those living in desperate situations around the world.
what we’re going to talk about over the next four Sundays beginning
today. Making this Christmas a Christmas that matters. And we’re going
to start by talking about making this Christmas matter in your own home.
those of you who are married and/or have kids at home, I think this
will be especially relevant for you. But what we’ll talk about today
can also apply when it comes to our friendships and coworkers and the
people that matter in our lives. How can this Christmas matter when it
comes to those relationships?
If you have your notes, you can
use them to follow along and fill in the blanks as we go. We’re going
to look at four ways to make this Christmas matter in your homes and in
How to Make Christmas Matter In Your Home:
1. Amidst the busyness of the season, carve out time for relationships
some of the best things about Christmas can also be the worst things
about Christmas. There are so many things going on and so many options
and so many demands and expectations on our time… there are parades and
parties and get-togethers and reunions… there’s the shopping and the
decorations and the concerts… there’s all the stuff our kids get
involved in and the stuff we get involved in and the stuff our spouses
drag us to… there’s just so much busyness that comes with this time of
And it’s so easy to become wrapped up in it all.
You’re rushing here and there and everywhere, and while you’re doing it
you’re neglecting the most important people in your life. Does that
make sense to you?
Here… think about this… what is the most
valuable gift you can give to someone? It’s time, right? Because when
you give someone your time, that time is gone. You can’t take it back,
it’s not going to replenish itself, it’s gone. So if you want to give
someone the best Christmas gift you can give them, give them your time.
here’s the thing: this doesn’t happen by accident. That’s true at any
time of the year, but especially at Christmas you need to intentionally
make time for the people that matter most. That’s what I say, “carve
out time.” You intentionally decide where and what you’re going to cut.
You set aside time for your relationships… for your family… for your
If you want this Christmas to count, you’re going to
value your relationships… with your family and with your friends.
You’re going to invest time into those relationships. You’re going to
create memories together.
I think the apostle Paul in the New Testament put it so well in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth…
2 Corinthians 12:14 (NLT)
I don’t want what you have—I want you.
Okay, so what does this mean? How do you make relationships a priority during the Christmas season?
• Well, you can work on a craft or a project around the house together,
• you can run errands together,
• you can go out for hot chocolate together,
• you can take a drive together to check out some of the Christmas decorations,
for your family you can set aside one or two evenings a week when
you’ll all be home and you’re not going to compromise that time
• you can go out for brunch on Saturday morning,
• you can go ice skating together…
are all kinds of things you can do to carve out time for relationships…
all kinds of ways you can create memories together that will outlast
the busyness of the Christmas season.
2. Keep the celebration of the birth of Jesus central to your holiday
talk about Christmas being a holiday. But do you know where the word
holiday comes from? It’s actually a contraction of two words: “Holy
Day.” The Christmas holiday is meant to be a holy day. It’s a day set
aside for a specific purpose… to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
So the Christmas season is not just a month long party; it’s a party in recognition of a specific event—the birth of Jesus.
let me be clear about this: I have no real problem with Santa and
Rudolph and parades and giving gifts and candy cane ice cream and
grandmother’s getting run over by reindeer… I have no problem with any
of that. (Don’t ask about penguins, though. I have no idea what they
have to do with the North Pole.)
I think all of that stuff that
is part of our Christmas celebration is fine. It’s fun. I do think,
though, that there’s the danger of those kinds of things overshadowing
and replacing what Christmas is really about.
You know, if you
go out and you ask people what Christmas is about, you’re going to get
a variety of answers. Some people will tell you it’s about presents,
it’s about family, it’s about the lights and the decorations and the
carols, a lot of people will tell you it’s about the kids. The grumps
among us will tell you it’s about consumerism and we ‘d be better off
if we did away with the whole thing.
But while all of that can
be part of our Christmas celebration, they are not what Christmas is
really about. It’s about an event that took place in the Judean town of
Bethlehem just a little over 2000 years ago. And no, Jesus was probably
not born on December 25, but it is the day we have set aside as a holy
day to celebrate His birth because we don’t know the actual date of His
Even look at the word “Christmas.” What does it mean?
Well, just like “holiday” comes from “holy day,” “Christmas” comes from
“Christ’s Mass.” It’s all about Jesus Christ.
So amidst all the other trappings, how do you keep the birth of Jesus central to your holiday?
being here this morning is a good step. Don’t allow all the other stuff
associated with Christmas to push Jesus aside on the day of the week we
come together as His Church to worship Him.
There’s our Christmas Eve service, too. You can plan to be here for that.
can also take time on your own to read through the Christmas story in
the Bible. Read about the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew
chapters one and two, or the Gospel of Luke chapters one and two.
Pay attention to the Christmas carols you hear everywhere you go. A lot of them remind us that Christmas is about Jesus.
my family, we have a tradition of having a family reunion on Christmas
Eve. That goes back to before I was born and it’s one of my fondest
memories of when I was a kid. There was always great food and fun and
games and food and conversations and food. But at some point during
that reunion we’d all settle down, we’d gather in the living room, and
we would read the Christmas story from the Bible. Just to remind
ourselves that the whole reason we were together and celebrating was
because of the birth of Jesus.
But really, who cares? Why is the
birth of Jesus important? Well, take a look at what an angel from God
told Joseph (who would raise Jesus as his own son).
Matthew 1:20-21 (NLT)
son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your
wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And
she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save
his people from their sins.”
We don’t continue to celebrate
Christmas after 2000 years just because a baby was born. That’d be
pretty ridiculous. No, we celebrate it because that baby wasn’t just
any ol’ baby. That baby was the Messiah, God in the flesh, who came to
rescue us from sin and death. That’s a pretty good reason to celebrate
and to remember what Christmas is really about, don’t you think?
about those wise men? What do you think about when you think about
them? Gifts, right? But do you know what was even more important to
them? Do you know what they did even before they gave their gifts of
gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus?
Matthew 2:11 (NLT)
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
worshipped Him. They brought their gifts along, too, but the main
reason they made their journey from wherever they came from was to
Will you remember to keep Jesus central to your
celebration of Christmas this year? If you want this Christmas to
matter in your home, you’ll keep Jesus central.
Another way you
to make this Christmas matter in your home, and to make it a Christmas
you’ll like to remember rather than forget, is this…
3. Instead of creating division, discover the peace Jesus came to bring
know what happens in a lot of homes at Christmas time? People get
stressed, tempers get short, words are spoken, feelings are hurt, and
relationships are damaged. Of course, when you go out to a Christmas
party everyone puts on a happy face. But once you get home, it’s either
non-stop yelling or it’s the silent treatment.
And I know that
doesn’t always happen, but it CAN happen. And it can happen so easily
because of all the extra pressure and stress of the season.
the night Jesus was born, apart from Mary and Joseph the first people
to hear the news were… who? The shepherds. There was a group of
shepherds taking care of their sheep in the fields outside of
Bethlehem… they were there just minding their own business when all of
a sudden there was a bright light and an angel sent by God appeared
right there among them. Of course, the shepherds were terrified. But
the angel told them to relax and chill out, and then told them about
how Jesus had been born and how they could find Him. Then, after
delivering that message, a whole group of other angels appears praising
God and saying this:
Luke 2:14 (NIV)
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
to God and peace to you. Peace. Jesus came to bring peace. Peace
between you and God, peace within yourself, and peace between you and
So wouldn’t it be a shame if we allowed the
celebration of Jesus’ birth to destroy peace instead of bringing peace?
Wouldn’t it be a shame if families were broken and relationships were
destroyed just because we allowed ourselves to become overwhelmed with
all the added stresses of Christmastime?
4. Give meaningful gifts, not necessarily expensive gifts
of the biggest traditions that we have at Christmas time is the giving
and receiving of gifts. And really, that can be a lot of fun. Who
doesn’t like receiving gifts, right? There’s nothing inherently wrong
with giving gifts at Christmas time.
The problem arises when
we feel obligated to give, and when we feel pressured to spend beyond
what we can afford, and when we start to think that the value of our
relationship has to be reflected in the cost of our gift. And so every
year, people spend far more than they can afford just to validate the
extent of their love.
Listen… The quality of your friendships
and your family relationships does not hinge on the amount of money you
spend on them for Christmas. Sure, go ahead and buy some gifts. But do
it within the constraints of your budget and don’t go overboard. Focus
on the relationship, not the purchase. And the gifts you do buy… put
some thought into them.
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God
expressed His displeasure at the Israelites for trying to express their
love for Him through gifts. While all the time, they were essentially
cheating on Him. They were going through the rituals of worship,
offering incense and sacrifices to God, but at the same time they were
participating in all kinds of evil. So God said to them…
Isaiah 1:13 (NLT)
Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
basically, He was incensed at their incense. He would rather they gave
Him nothing if they weren’t going to give themselves first.
ladies, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Us men… we don’t
know how to shop. We don’t. We don’t go shopping; we go hunting. We
don’t shop for presents; we hunt for presents. You know those gifts we
give you and you open them and you look at them… “Oh, great… a George
Foreman grill… just what I always wanted.” Or, “wow… windshield washer
fluid. I never would have guessed. Shopping at Canadian Tire again, eh?”
know, sometimes we’re not the most thoughtful when it comes to buying
gifts. I think we’ve all been guilty of that from time to time,
regardless of gender.
Have you ever bought a gift just because
you had to buy a gift? You were obligated to? You didn’t want them to
give you a gift and not have a gift to give them in return? Do you
maybe even have a closet at home where you stow away extra gifts just
for that time you might forget to buy another gift and you need one
right away? So you just pull one out, put a bow on it, slap a name on
it, and that’s it?
There’s nothing personal about that. There’s nothing meaningful about that. It’s just a gift for the sake of a gift.
if instead of that you actually put some thought into it? What if
instead of trying to give something expensive you gave something
meaningful? And if you can afford it, sure… go ahead and spend some
money. But only if the gift is actually meaningful. Meaningful gifts do
not always have to be expensive gifts.
And I’m not saying to be
cheap, but sometimes the most meaningful gifts aren’t really all that
expensive at all. The most meaningful gift might be a coupon for a
sleigh ride together, or a photo album of shared memories, or a gift
certificate you make for them for a movie night together at home
complete with popcorn and a root beer float.
Our Bible includes
a couple letters that the apostle Paul wrote to the Christ-followers in
the city of Corinth. And in his second letter, Paul encouraged the
Corinthians to excel in the art of generosity. He was talking
specifically about giving in support of ministry and caring for the
poor and being generous in meeting needs. But I think his advice about
generosity can apply to our Christmas spending, too.
2 Corinthians 8:11-12 (NLT)
in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you
give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you
That’s pretty good advice, isn’t it? And that’s what
you’ll find throughout the Bible. Time and time again it encourages us
to be generous. God is a generous God and if we want to be godly then
we’re going to be generous, too. But that generosity is to be balanced
with financial responsibility, where we give generously of what we have
but not what we don’t have.
Because think about it… what happens
when you do go overboard and spend more than you can afford? You end up
going into debt, right? And you might end up spending months or even
years paying it off. That whole time, you’re a slave to your creditor,
you’re frustrated, you’re limited in how generous you can be in other
ways, your options in life are limited because of your debt, and you
might end up becoming bitter and resentful because of it all.
as you probably already know, the leading contributor toward divorce is
financial trouble. If you want this Christmas to strengthen your home
instead of tearing it apart, spend less but give in more meaningful
Christmas really can be the most wonderful time of the
year. But to move beyond all the activity and busyness of the season to
the point that Christmas really matters, where your family grows
stronger and your friendships are enriched, you’ve got to decide ahead
of time what’s important to you.
Will you carve out time for
your relationships? Will you keep Jesus central in your holiday
celebration? Will you maintain peace in your homes and in your
friendships? And can you learn to give meaningful gifts?