Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas To-Do List Luke 2:8-20

So often in the Christmas story, we focus on the main characters: Mary, Joseph, and, of course, Jesus. But through the short account in Luke 2:8–20, we can learn from the shepherds four things that should make the top of our to-do list this Christmas.

Item #One Believe
The angels announced in spectacular fashion that the Messiah had been born. They came out in great numbers. As soon as the angels left, the shepherds looked at each other and said: What are we waiting for? Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.

There is no debate. There is no procrastination. They don’t decide to sleep on it. They don’t go on the web for research. They just believe it! That’s faith. Scripture says that without faith it’s impossible to please God. The angel said, “Peace on earth among people with whom He is pleased.” Who are those people? It’s those who respond to God’s gift through faith. Scripture says, “For by grace you are saved, through faith…” Eph 2:8 Faith means you say yes to all that God did through Christ. Yes, He is the Savior of the world. Yes, He came to die for my sins. Yes, through Him I find forgiveness and new life. Yes, I want to follow Him. Believe in Him.


Item #Two Obey

The shepherds did exactly as they were told. We sometimes think of Christmas as a tame holiday. “All is calm, all is bright.” We think of sweet little baby Jesus asleep on a bed of hay. Everyone loves that because it’s so innocuous, harmless and safe. But Christmas isn’t safe! That baby is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He has come to usher in a kingdom that rivals the kingdom of self. That’s threatening. It threatens the social order. This Message changes lives forever! He bids those who would follow Him to take up their cross daily—to lay aside our own right to rule ourselves, to surrender to His rule.

The world loves to celebrate the birth of Christ, but they hate to obey Him as the Lord of their lives. Everyone wants to keep Christ in the manger. A Baby can be But the manger is meaningless apart from the Cross. As one writer put it many years ago: "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”1 Sam 15:22 Christmas is a time for obedience.

Believe-- Obey

Item #Three Tell
When the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem and saw the child lying in the feed trough, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.”... They weren’t preachers. They weren’t missionaries. They were not professional Churchmen. But that didn’t matter. They had heard and seen something that meant salvation for the whole world. And they were not going to keep it to themselves.

ILL of the Gospel shared in China in the 1800’sHow long has the West known this Message and you JUST now bring it to us?! We must tell!

Christmas trees, eggnog, and exchanging of gifts are fine, but if we do all that stuff but don’t talk about Jesus—if we fail to speak of the real meaning of it all… If we neglect to tell someone that this Child was born as Savior and Lord, that He was sent by God to die on the Cross to purchase with His Royal Blood our own deliverance from sin, death, and the devil… If we neglect to publish that abroad, we’ve failed to do Christmas right. We have not read out To-Do List!

The angel said that this is good news of great joy which shall be for all the people. Share the joy. “Who do you know that NEEDS to hear this good News?”


Item #Four Experience
The shepherds were overwhelmed at the angel’s announcement. They experienced holy wonder... Have you ever had Holy Wonder? When that happens then maybe that means you stop in the middle of your shopping, sit down, and read the Christmas story. Maybe that means you gather your children around a Nativity scene each night and unwrap a different piece and talk about the role it plays in the Christmas story. Maybe that means you wake up early one morning and find a place you can watch the sun rise as you meditate on Luke 1:79 "to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

The work of holy wonder is treasuring and pondering the fact that God invaded planet Earth on a perilous rescue mission. Amidst all the activities of this week, stop and treasure all these things. Ponder them in your heart. Engage in some holy wonder.
Believe—Obey—Tell—Experience The Christ, the Son of God 

Come to ICCS on Christmas Eve for a ICCS Family Christmas Eve Candle Light Service.  Starting at 5:30 for international soup and sandwiches AND Christmas cookies!  At around 6:30, we will have the Christmas Candle Service with singing, a video movie and a message by our own Ken Nishiono-San.  At the end of that service, we will leave the Chapel to sing in the Enoki-Cho community.  We will have about two houses to visit and sing Carols of Christmas.  Before  we all go home, return to the Chapel for some hot drinks and more Christmas cookies.
And Merry Christmas one and all!
He IS the REASON for the Season!
-Outline taken from Mark Mitchell, with JoHannah Reardon's A Christmas To-Do-List.