“Room At The Inn: Is There Room For Christmas?”

(Luke 2:1-7; John 1:1-5)

 

Billy D Strayhorn

 

INTRODUCTION:

      A 6-year-old little girl emerged from her Sunday school class with a toothless grin on her face and a piece of candy and a new pencil in her hands. "Guess what?" she said to Mom, "I was the best listener today. I won the prize!"

      "That''s wonderful," Mom replied. "How did you win?"

       "Miss Lynda read a story about baby Jesus then asked what Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in when she laid him in the manger."

       "Well, what did Mary wrap him in?"

       "Swaddling clothes," came the quick reply.

       "What are swaddling clothes?" Mom asked.

       "I don't know," she admitted, shrugging her shoulders. "I guess they're what ducks wear." (1)

      Sometimes we treat Christmas like that, we know the answers, we know the story but we don’t know the meaning.

      Did you know that the celebration of Christmas is one of the biggest seasons of the year in Japan? It’s odd because Japan’s population only has about ½ to 1% of the people who are Christians. Yet, they love Christmas. It’s not a national holiday like it is here but they still decorate their houses with lights, most homes will have a Christmas tree. But for them it is all focused on the consumer side. It’s a time simply for parties and celebrations. 

      The Japanese remind me of a young family I read about who was going home for Christmas. The car was all packed. The mail and the newspaper delivery had been stopped. A neighbor would keep an eye on the house and feed the dog. All the gifts for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were somehow fitted into the trunk of the car. They had plenty of anti-freeze in the radiator. Their suitcases and hanging clothes were in place. They were finally ready to go. The husband started out of the driveway, when all of a sudden the wife gasped, “Honey, we forgot the baby.”

      Sometimes things get so hectic during this time of the year that we forget the real meaning of Christmas, we forget the baby. That leads me to the question in the Title: “Is There Room For Christmas?” Is there? Is there still room for Christmas in this world of ours?

      My answer, of course, is “Yes!” Not only is there room, but the gift of Christmas is probably needed now more than ever.

      Let’s remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas as we look at two passages of Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 and John 1:1-5. First Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV)
[1] In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.
[2] This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
[3] All went to their own towns to be registered.
[4] Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
[5] He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
[6] While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
[7] And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
John 1:1-5 (NRSV)
[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[2] He was in the beginning with God.
[3] All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
[4] in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
[5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

      We know those words, many of us know them by heart. But the crucial question is: “have those words taken over our heart. Or maybe more importantly, “Has the Word, ‘the Word made flesh taken over our heart?” Without these words and without the “Word” Christmas would just be another day celebrated with lights and glitz and glitter. There has to be Room For Christmas because the world still needs what Christmas has to offer.

I. THE WORLD STILL NEEDS HOPE:

      Maybe you’ve heard the Associated Press story that came out last Sunday, November 23rd, in Platteville, Colorado, just north of Denver. It seems after Joe and Chris Miller, the owners of a 600 acre produce farm, heard reports of churches being broken into and the food being stolen, decided to open up their farm for a public harvest of all the leftovers after the harvest. The practice is Biblical and is called gleaning.

      Gleaning is possible in the farm fields because the harvesters are selective and pick the most uniform sized and looking vegetables to package for you and me. The rest of the vegetables, all still perfectly edible, are discarded onto the ground where they will either rot or be plowed under.

      Ms. Miller said she and her husband decided to open the farm for public harvest for the first time this year as a thank-you for customers. The Millers put an ad in the newspaper. They expected 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up Saturday to collect potatoes, carrots and leeks. However, they received a big surprise when 40,000 people showed up.

      An estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around cornfields and backed up more than two miles. About 30 acres of the 600-acre farm, 37 miles north of Denver, became a parking lot. One family was able to collect 10 bags of vegetables. The fields were picked so clean on Saturday that a second day of harvesting, scheduled for Sunday, was canceled.

      The farm’s operations manager, Dave Patterson, said that in previous years the Millers had allowed schoolchildren and some church groups to harvest their own food from the farm. He estimated that about 600,000 pounds of produce was harvested Saturday.

      B.   Is There Still Room For Christmas in this world of ours? I’d say “Yes!” wouldn’t you? And maybe more so now, than ever before. No matter how sophisticated and technologically savvy we become, Christmas connects us to the Hope which only God can offer. We are discovering again that we can’t do it by ourselves.

      We need Christmas because we need the Christmas miracles now more than ever. We need the hope which only a Savior brings. Is There Room For Christmas? “Yes!” because The World Still Needs Hope.

II. THE WORLD STILL NEEDS THIS BABY:

      A.  And The World Still Needs This Baby because this baby embodies Hope. This Baby is hope in the flesh who came to dwell among us. This Baby grows to be a man who gives His life willingly for us and promises to “never leave us or forsake us.”  Or “leave us orphaned.” He promised “to be with us always, even to the ends of the earth.”

      The World Still Needs This Baby because the world still needs the constant companionship, assurance and understanding which only Christ can bring in a troubled time. And it doesn’t have to be a world shattering type of trouble. Some of you may have seen the story of Logan, the 13 year old boy they are calling the Sky Angel Cowboy.

      B.   Logan was clearly upset because this calf, he was close to, broke its back and he had to put it down. But our God, who loves us and sent His Son for us, was there, walking right beside him and holding him up and filling him with insight for the rest of us. We still need that kind of insight. And that insight can only come because of the birth of this child. The World Still Needs This Baby.

CONCLUSION:

      There IS Room For Christmas. The World Still Needs Hope, The World Still Needs This Baby.

      Don’t miss out on the greatest gift God has ever given the world. Don’t get so caught up in the trappings and parties and preparations of Christmas that you forget the baby. Take time to reread the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke. Take time to pray. Find a book of advent devotions or inspirational stories to lift your spirit and prepare your heart and home for the celebration of the Birth of the Son of God.

      The World Still Needs Hope, The World Still Needs This Baby. You Still Need Hope, You Still Need This Baby. Make Room For Christmas in Your Heart.

 

 

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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Bibliography

1.    Susan Childress, Modesto, California in CHRISTIAN HERALD.

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Other References Consulted