Text: Mt 4:16, Lk 4:18, Lk. 2:14
Title: What if there is no Christmas?
Theme: Christmas brings the good news of light, liberty and peace to our otherwise frozen souls.
Soon after Lucy entered the land of Narnia , she met a faun and learned that all Narnia was under the control of the White Witch. The faun said, “She makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas, think of it.” Just imagine, always winter and never Christmas.
What comes to your mind when you think of winter? Cold, gloomy, dirty melted snow, ice, cars spinning on the icy roads, warm indoors, heavy and cumbersome clothes, sadness and depressive, not wanting to get up in the morning. If you live in Anchorage , Alaska , you have about 5 ½ hours of daylight during the winter months. If you go farther north to the city of Barrow , it has several weeks of endless nights. You won't know if it's morning or evening and become easily disoriented. In a 1992 study, 10% of Alaskans suffer from the Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you travel farther north to the Artic, it will be six months without light. The cold is bad enough, but life without light is another story.
Do you remember what it was like when the power went off at night? There was that eerie silence. There was fear, insecurity, not knowing what to anticipate. One can also feel disoriented even in that familiar house. If you made one or two turns, you'll lose your sense of direction. This is what its like in winter and in the dark.
Can you imagine what life can be like if it was always winter and dark, and never Christmas?
I. If there is no Christmas, it will always be dark.
Matthew 4:16, “ 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
When we live in darkness, we experience fear because we feel threatened, we feel insecure . The more we feel insecure, the more we want to grasp hold of something that will make us feel secure. We're like Linus in the Charlie Brown cartoon or any child, holding onto that security blanket.
When we are younger, good grades would be our security blanket, making us feel good and secure. Some find security in good relationships, good jobs and good pay. Then, to some, a good family or other's approval holds the key to security. And if any one of them goes wrong or is taken away from us, our world will collapse.
When we are in total darkness, we are blind and cannot even see our 5 fingers. We cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. Yes, we all have what C.S. Lewis called “moral notion”. That is, a sense of right and wrong. But for the last 40-50 years, our social culture has skewed our moral motion. For example: in the name of equal human rights and love, we tolerate and are accustomed to the gay marriage laws in some states and countries. I can treat you in whatever way I like. I can use, manipulate, control and cheat on you as long as it is to my benefit. But if you do that to me, I'll be real upset and angry. I may need to peek over your shoulder to take a look at the answer to question #5, but if you start doing that to me and get better grades than I, then I'll cry foul and unfair. When we are in the dark, we don't see too well, isn't it so?
When we are in the dark, we often feel disoriented . We want to hold onto some fixture to give us a sense of direction. If we are living in darkness, we will depend on others to tell us where to go and how. We let the society decide for us what is good and bad. It is kind of ironic that the Christian community needs Hollywood to help us rediscover the writings of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien.
When we live in darkness, we grab onto things that we can feel and touch as our security blanket. We have a skewed sense of right and wrong, and priorities. Quoting a phrase in a well know Korean TV series: We may achieve all the things we want in life, but in the end loses the most important thing; life. We may do whatever we feel like and yet miss out on what is right and good. And you know what is so scary about living in the dark? After a little while, we may even get used to it, and enjoy that kind of life, for we don't know anything better. We may not even know there is another alternative. Its so easy and natural to accept what is, as what should be and could become.
II. If there is no Christmas, there will be no good news .
Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” If there is no Christmas, there will be no Good News.
When there was no Christmas in the land of Narnia , not only was it always winter, but it was also under the control of the white witch. The Narnians lived in fear under the witch's tyranny.
Without Christmas, the poor will remain poor. Not just physical, but spiritual as well. There will be the unquenchable thirst for something meaningful and substantial in life. We may possess all the money we need and want, yet there possess a deep vacuum within.
If there is no Christmas, we'll remain as captives. A captive does not have freedom. A captive is one that is oppressed by the strong, powerful and often wealthy ones. A captive is one controlled by sin. Even though we may have a sense of right and wrong, we cannot help but do what is wrong and shameful. In public places, we behave like ladies and gentlemen, but what are we like at home or when the lights are out? Externally we seem to be in control, but within, we are under the control of sin. We may be addicted to pornography, alcohol and different kind of drugs. We can't break those bondages and feel very helpless, we are like slaves under bondage.
III. If there is no Christmas, there will be no peace .
Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”. If there is no Christmas, then there will be no PEACE. What is it like without peace?
What it is like without peace? Internal turmoil, quick temper, impatience, resentment and bitterness towards self and others, difficulty in maintaining meaningful relationships, restlessness, worry, difficulty in sleeping and other physical ailments. When there is no peace within oneself, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to have peace with family members and people around us. A person without peace finds no contentment in life and is very miserable.
This is what life is like if there is no Christmas. It is all winter and darkness. Life is full of insecurity, confusion and without direction. The best we can do is to follow the crowd. We let the society; the magazines and our peers tell us what is best and important. Even though we may have it all, we miss the most important thing in life. Living in winter and darkness makes us feel like slaves to sins and human habits. We appear to be free, doing whatever we want to, yet not knowing what is truly important in life. We have no peace with ourselves, consequently without peace with others. It is as if life is all frozen.
However, there is Christmas indeed. The fact we are here this morning, is a statement that there is Christmas. Because on Christmas day, Jesus the son of God, God himself came into the world. God became man and lived among us.
Because there is Christmas, there is light. This Jesus is the light of the world, and those who follow him will not be walking in the darkness. Therefore we read, “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Mat 4:16). Because he came and lived among us, we knew that he has unconditionally loved and accepted us. We learn that the basis of security is not based on external accomplishment but on the fact that we have been unconditionally loved and accepted by the God most high. Because he is the light, therefore as we follow him, we will then know what is right and wrong, and there will be direction in life.
Because this Jesus, son of God became man on that first Christmas 2k years ago, we hear and experience the good new first hand. Lk 4:18, “because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” Christ was the spokesperson and the defender of the poor, the helpless and the oppressed. Wherever the good news is preached, the physically poor are being taken care of. It is the Christian church that initiated many of the humanitarian work in different countries.
He is the one that saved us from the bondage of sins. Not only do we know right and wrong, he also enables us to do what is right and to refrain from what is wrong. Since he is the Truth, he would free us from legalism so we may experience true freedom. This is the good news of Christmas.
Moreover, because Jesus is the prince of peace, therefore when he came into this world, he also brings peace to us. Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” He is the one that gives us peace with God. His death 33 years after his birth removes our sins and reconciles us to God, to be at peace with him. Because of our peace with God, we are, therefore, able to have peace with ourselves and with others.
When Aslan landed in Narnia, the Narnians knew there was Christmas and winter would not last forever. With the arrival of Aslan, the witch's spell over the land began to fade. Snow was melting and the frozen creatures began to move and talk again. After last Wednesday's winter solstice, the residents of Barrow, Alaska , knew that it was the beginning of countdown to daylight. In five more weeks, they will see light again. They knew winter will not last forever. With the birth of Jesus Christ, the frozen winter began to melt and light began to shine through the soul's deep darkness. Spring is just around the corner. Yes, sometimes it may still be cold and dark, but this will not last forever.
However, isn't it true that what is even more important is: is there Christmas within us? If there is no Christmas inside us, we will continue to live in the dark and frozen state. Yet the good news of Christmas is that the Jesus of Christmas can come into your life and bring life, joy and peace to you.
When Mrs. Chou, a pastor's wife from US arrived in a Chinese church in Paris , she was urgently asked to meet a young lady named Shiangshiang from China . They asked her to pray for Shiangshiang for many of them thought she was possessed. Her eyes had no expression, as if her soul was frozen. When Mrs. Chou met her, she said, “Shiangshiang, I am Chou Si Mu. I have come to tell you that Jesus loves you. He listens to our prayers; he can help you and save you.” Shiangshiang stared at Mrs. Chou with a frozen look and grabbed her hand with cold and sweaty hands, murmured, “love me? love me?” Mrs. Chou repeated, “Shiangshiang, Jesus loves you and we love you. Can I pray for you?” She nodded her head.
Since that day, whenever Mrs. Chou went to church, she would seek out Shiangshiang, hug her, talk to her, tell her about Jesus' love and pray for her. Sunday after Sunday, Shiangshiang appeared to be improving. One Sunday, she nodded at Mrs. Chou and smiled at her. Then she started to tell her story. She was shaking and crying the entire time. Shiangshiang was so determined to leave a Chinese village that it took her 2 1/2 months to travel by bus and train to arrive at the Sino-Russia border. Then she traveled through northern Europe, Eastern Europe and Western Europe and finally arrived at her aunt's home in Paris . During her long journey, she was raped and violated by countless men of all ages and nationalities. As she told her story, her tears flowed like a broken dam from the depth of her soul. Mrs. Chou hugged her tightly and told her “Shiangshiang, its ok to cry; keep crying. Not only can you cry before me, you can also cry before Jesus who loves you. Tell him your pain, your bitterness and suffering.”
Shiangshiang continued to change and she also opened her heart to Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus, who came into the world on that first Christmas, Shiangshiang's frozen soul began to thaw. Today she is working in a restaurant. Life and smiles have returned to her.
How about you? On this Christmas day, may I encourage you to ask this Jesus to come into your life, to bring you joy, peace, true freedom and warmth in life?
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