Christmas - NOT a time for giving away things
One of our collection of as-yet unpublished Christmas resources.
This is written by LUKE TATTERSALL and first used Christmas 1998
Source: Author – unpublished in Perspective
CHRISTMAS – AN INAPPROPRIATE TIME FOR GIVING THINGS AWAY
It is OBVIOUS that our SOCIETY LOVES to CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS.
Right throughout the WHOLE of AUSTRALIA just about EVERY SINGLE PERSON will be or HAS BEEN CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS in some way.
It may be CHRISTMAS PARTIES. It may be GETTING TOGETHER with the FAMILY for a CHRISTMAS LUNCH TOMORROW. ALMOST EVERYONE will be involved in EXCHANGING GIFTS.
If your place is like ours then you probably have CHRISTMAS CARDS all over your house from people that you don’t see or hear from much – in fact the LAST TIME you heard from MANY of them was when you got a CHRISTMAS CARD from them LAST YEAR. But it is GREAT to hear from them and hear how things are GOING
I think it is GREAT that Christmas can be a time when we do THINK OF OTHERS – a TIME when we can ENJOY being with our FAMILY – a time when we ENJOY SHARING things with others.
But SOMETIMES it looks like CHRISTMAS may have been HIJACKED. In SOME WAYS it seems that CHRISTMAS may have been TAKEN OVER. There are some SECTIONS of the COMMUNITY who seem to have LOST SIGHT of what CHRISTMAS is ABOUT. They think THEY are the ones to DECIDE what CHRIST is about. And they GET THE WHOLE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS WRONG.
A friend of mine in SYDNEY was telling me about his BROTHERS CHURCH. They decided to try and GET OUT in the COMMUNITY in the WEEKS LEAD UP TO CHRISTMAS. They started running a STALL at the LOCAL MARKETS each SATURDAY MORNING.
What they were DOING was GIVING AWAY FREE COFFEE, FREE BIBLES and FREE LITERATURE that EXPLAINED what CHRISTIANITY and CHRISTMAS were REALLY ABOUT.
Some of the other STALL HOLDERS – especially the ones selling COFFEE and RUNNING BOOK STALLS – COMPLAINED to the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (who ran the markets) about what this church were doing.
The following week the church got a letter from the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE saying that they had WITHDRAWN PERMISSION for this church to RUN a STALL at the MARKETS.
Now that is BAD ENOUGH – but listen to the EXPLANATION that they gave in the letter. The CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WROTE – and I QUOTE – that in their view:
“…CHRISTMAS WAS A MOST INAPPROPRIATE TIME TO BE GIVING THINGS AWAY FOR NOTHING.”
They saw it is a CRIME against the SPIRIT OF XMAS to be GIVING THINGS AWAY FOR NOTHING.
Now THERE is a TWIST on CHRISTMAS that you may not have heard of. CHRISTMAS is an INAPPROPRIATE TIME to be GIVING THINGS AWAY FOR NOTHING.
I WONDER what they think will be happening in HOMES all around AUSTRALIA on CHRISTMAS MORNING. What do they think the GIFTS are about.
And the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE also must have forgotten to tell GOD about that. The WHOLE MESSAGE of CHRISTMAS is that GOD WAS WILLING TO GIVE US HIS SON. God was willing to give us FORGIVENESS and LIFE – and he was willing to do it for NOTHING.
RESPONDING TO THE KING
But it is not just the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE who MISS THE POINT of CHRISTMAS.
Even at the BIRTH of JESUS there were those who GOT IT RIGHT – who could SEE that was HAPPENING and KNEW how to RESPOND.
And there were those who got it WRONG. Who DIDN’T UNDERSTAND what the BIRTH was about and RESPONDED in a most INAPPROPRIATE WAY.
Lets have a look at few of those people:
THE WISE MEN
One group of MEN who CLEARLY GOT IT RIGHT were the WISE MEN.
They TRAVELLED an ENORMOUS DISTANCE to find this NEW KING who has been born. And they have COME with GIFTS for him.
One of the FUNNY things in the story is that they are NOT SURE exactly where to find this NEW KING who has been BORN.
They ARRIVE in JERUSALEM not knowing EXACTLY where to GO. So they decide to go and see the LOCAL RULER – a man by the name of KING HEROD – thinking that HE may be able to tell them where this CHILD is.
When they tell HEROD about the NEW KING has NO IDEA what they’re talking about. The WISE MEN LEAVE. They FOLLOW the STAR and EVENTUALLY come to the place where Jesus is.
And what do they do when they GET THERE? They TREAT JESUS like a KING – because that is who JESUS IS. He is the KING that God has sent into this world. They BOW before him and WORSHIP HIM. They present their GIFTS to him.
Now the ONE man in all this who REACTS in TOTALLY THE WRONG WAY is KING HEROD.
How does HE RESPOND to the NEWS that the KING has been born? How does he REACT when he hears that the SAVIOUR of the WORLD has come.
He gives and ORDER to his SOLDIERS to have EVERY BABY BOY in JERUSALEM under the age of 2 KILLED.
It is hard to believe that HEROD could be SO THREATENED by a BABY. But he WAS. He believed that HE WAS THE KING and he would not TOLERATE anyone else claiming to be KING – even if they were only a BABY.
He DIDN’T KNOW where to find the baby so just to be on the SAFE SIDE he ordered that EVERY BABY under the age of TWO who was living in the area was to be PUT TO DEATH.
Here is a man who wants NOTHING TO DO with GOD’S KING. He doesn’t care the SLIGHTEST about the SALVATION Jesus came to bring.
THE INN KEEPER
But there is one FINAL CHARACTER that is worth NOTING – and that is the INN KEEPER.
I suppose we have ALL heard those stories of people who made a BIG ERROR in JUDGEMENT.
I remember hearing about the FIRST RECORD PRODUCER to do a DEMO RECORDING of ELVIS PRESLEY. When he had finished the RECORDING SESSION he told PRESLEY that he should GIVE UP MUSIC – that with a VOICE LIKE HIS he DIDN’T HAVE MUCH of a FUTURE.
Boy that guy must have felt a little SILLY a few years later.
I sometimes think the poor old IN KEEPER in the CHRISTMAS STORY must be a bit like that.
We certainly don’t have a WHOLE LOT of INFORMATION about him. In FACT HE ISN’T EVEN MENTIONED in the STORY.
We just ASSUME that he was the one who gave MARY and JOSEPH PERMISSION to use the STABLES that BELONGED to the INN.
He seemed to have NO IDEA what was going on. He was probably a RESPECTABLE BUSINESS MAN in town – probably a member of the JERUSALEM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (which may explain a few things).
But he seems to be COMPLETELY UNAWARE that the SON OF GOD is coming INTO THE WORLD – and that it is ALL HAPPENING in HIS STABLE.
I think this CARTOON gives you some idea of what he would have FELT LIKE.
His reaction is probably the MOST SAD. He just DIDN’T SEEM to have any idea of what was going on.
YOU AND THE BABY
Well there you have THREE DIFFERENT RESPONSES to this BABY.
HEROD – who REJECTS the KINGSHIP of JESUS. He wants to ELIMINATE JESUS. He will NOT TOLERATE ANYONE who claims to be KING.
We have the WISE MEN who know from THOUSANDS of Kms away that JESUS is the KING. And they know how they should RESPOND to the KING – they should BOW DOWN and WORSHIP HIM – ACKNOWLEDGE that he is THEIR KING.
But last of all there is the INN KEEPER. He is PROBABLY the MOST TRAGIC FIGURE in the STORY. He neither ACCEPTS or REJECTS JESUS. He is just COMPLETELY INDIFFERENT. For HIM life seems to be GOING ON.
Now when you think about those THREE REACTIONS to the coming of the KING WHICH ONE would you say that YOU are most like in this STORY?
Are you like HEROD?
Do you think that you are one of those who simply REJECTS the whole Jesus thing? Are you one of those who REFUSES to ACKNOWLEDGE the KINGSHIP of JESUS? Do you have NO INTEREST in the SALVATION Jesus came to bring in?
I doubt there would be anyone here this evening who responds to Jesus in the VISCOUS WAY that HEROD did. But I imagine there would be some people who – like HEROD – are TOTALLY UNWILLING to acknowledge that SOMEONE ELSE should RULE THEIR LIVES.
Does the thought of JESUS being your KING seem UNCOMFORTABLE to you?
Are you like the WISE MEN?
Is CHRISTMAS a time when you DO ACKNOWLEDGE AGAIN the KINGSHIP of JESUS? Is CHRISTMAS a time when you remember that he came into the world to SAVE YOU? Is JESUS YOUR KING?
Are you one of those who is HAPPY to hear again the CHRISTMAS MESSAGE about Jesus?
Is CHRISTMAS a time for you
Or are you like the INN KEEPER?
Are you INDIFFERENT about Jesus come?
SADLY I think that MOST Australians fall into this category.
It is not so much that they ACCEPT or REJECT JESUS. They are just INDIFFERENT about the whole thing.
Maybe that sounds like YOU. You’re not AGAINST JESUS – but your just TOO BUSY to think much about what XMAS MEANS.
There was all the SHOPPING to do. Presents to WRAP. FOOD to get READY. And you have NEVER REALLY TAKEN TIME to think about Jesus and his life.
But the MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS is that the KING has come into the world. He has COME to give you LIFE. He has COME to give you FORGIVENESS. He has COME to INVITE you to be PART of his KINGDOM.
And you can have all that as soon as you are ready to do what the WISE MEN DID – as soon as you are ready to BOW YOUR KNEE before JESUS as YOUR KING.
How you RESPOND to him is UP TO YOU. But the fact is you WILL respond to Jesus in one of those three ways: like the INN KEEPER like HEROD or like the wise men
But it is the WISE MAN who acknowledges Jesus as KING.