Not Another Christmas (Anything)


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The introduction sermon for the Christmas Go Deeper Series at TaB 2013
In order to get the maximum spiritual growth potential out of the Christmas season, we have to contemplate the incarnation and the nativity.

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  • With the kids jingle-belling – what about people without children, unable to have children, with an abortion in their past, or a miscarriage, or single, or adults with children missing or rebelling – not jingle-belling?And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer" -- what about the angry disgruntled clerk who has worked another 14 hr shift and can’t be home with her children because she has to work a third job just to pay the rent? Or the customer who is rude to you snatching up the last of an item that you were set on finding for someone?With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call -- what if no one comes to call and you are alone again for Christmas? What if all of your friends have passed away? What if you have no friends at all because of the abuse that you have given them during the divorce?There'll be parties for hosting -- what if you aren’t invited? Or no one comes to your party?Marshmallows for toasting – what if marshmallows make you sick? S’more intolerant?And caroling out in the snow -- They don’t sing your favorite ones anyway? And you don’t drive in snow! Add to that you are tone deaf.There'll be scary ghost stories  -- A Christmas Carol? Which version? And what if my VHS tape breaks this year or my DVD player dies in the middle? Forget ghost stories – mine is scary enough!“We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report high incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.Why? Is the Grinch in full force during the season? Is it because of the dark winter weather that increases the incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Certainly those may be some reasons, but it appears to have more to do with unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection for many people.” tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago  -- There are many! But the first trumps them all!
  • Mary, the stoic servant girl??
  • (art) Appreciation comes from long periods of time, sometimes changing angles/lighting to gain perspective, often discussing with another.
  • Rom 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.Phil 4:8-9 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.Col 3:2 – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. …Col 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.James 1:22-25 – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.
  • DEEPER trust in God’s promises = tree rootsDEEPER partnership with God = derrickDEEPER confidence in God’s purpose = icebergDEEPER delight in the Gospel = deep-sea diver
  • Not Another Christmas (Anything)

    1. 1. Introduction • It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the year… – Is it really? Why not? – But shouldn’t it be? Why? “Familiarity breeds CONTEMPT .”
    2. 2. • “There is danger in loose handling of the nativity and the incarnation.” JB Philips
    3. 3. Introduction This Christmas, TaB is going to go DEEPER. The Christmas story is valuable for our spiritual health and growth.
    4. 4. Mary “…Mary pondered these things in her heart.” Lk 2:19 “…Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” Lk 2:51
    5. 5. Contemplation • Deeper appreciation requires deeper CONTEMPLATION. (Lk 1:66; 2:19, 51) – RECOGNIZE that there is so much more to be learned. – REFRESH your passion for discovery. – REFUSE to take a ho-hum or a humbug approach to Christmas.
    6. 6. Correction • Deeper understanding may demand deeper CORRECTION. (Lk 1:38) – ADMIT that there is need for change. – ASK for clarity and insight into your own sinfulness. – ADVANCE and ALIGN the priorities of your life to God’s agenda.
    7. 7. Communication • Deeper influence generates a deeper COMMUNICATION. (Lk 1:43, 45, 46-55) – MENTION Christ often during the holiday season. – MAKE EFFORTS to seize opportunities for sharing Christmas life with others. – MODEL true Christmas spirit.
    8. 8. Conclusion • Go DEEPER! – in your relationship with Christ this Christmas – for more growth and fruit – for the glory of God in Ithaca
    9. 9. Sneak Peak