Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christ-less Tree

Props: small Christmas tree, representative ornaments

How many of you have decorated your houses for Christmas? How many of you have already put up a Christmas tree? Have you baked cookies? Bought presents for other people? Do you like to sing Christmas songs?

None of these things are bad things to do, are they? But sometimes even good things can cover up the best things.

I brought along a little Christmas tree today, and I want us to think about whether any of the things we hang on this tree show us what Christmas really is. There are lots of fun make-believe things people talk about at Christmas, and there are lots of traditions (big word—things that we do every year) that we have…and they are not all bad. Some of them are good things, but even good things can cover up the best thing.

Display Christmas tree and point out that the stories & traditions about Christmas (as demonstrated by ornaments) are not what Christmas really is.

Stocking—How many of you put out Christmas stockings? Lots of fun to find candy and little gifts in them on Christmas morning.
Presents—Do you like to get presents from people? Do you like to give them? It's fun to give people we love something special, isn't it?
Santa & reindeer—The story of Santa is a Christmas tradition for many people. You will see pictures of Santa on Christmas cards and maybe see people dressed in Santa costumes.
Bells—Many church buildings have bells that are rung to tell people that it's time to come and worship God.
Christmas tree—Green trees and wreaths and garlands are pretty and real ones smell wonderful, don't they?

But…What is Christmas? Can you tell me?

All these things are just traditions and stories…The truth is, Christmas isn't any of these things.

Take each ornament off.

Christmas is a miracle. Only God can do miracles. Remember that God is really three persons in one—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. The great miracle of Christmas is that God the Son put Himself into the body of a tiny baby and was born to a young woman named Mary. That little baby, Jesus, was both God and man. No one else has ever done that before and no one ever will do it again. That is Christmas. Nothing else.

Christmas trees and stockings and presents and lights and cookies and Christmas cards are not wrong…but just make sure that the good things of Christmas don't cover up the best thing…the REAL Christmas. And the real Christmas is Jesus. Just Jesus, and nothing else.

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