#265 (24/12/06)
Christmas: It’s the Beginning

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

He’s been a friend of mine for many, many years. Both of us have had the honor of being close friends in an organization called Horatio Alger and Jack was elected to the board of this ministry many years ago, served his term and had to take a leave according to the bylaws. But Jack Brown leads the list of business men as far as integrity and reputation is concerned in my mind. He is the president, chairman, CEO of Stater Brother’s Grocery and even when he sat on our board of trustees.

Special Music

" O Come, All Ye Faithful "
" Good Christians All Rejoice "
" Joy to the World "

" Glad Tidings of Joy "
“ O Holy Child ”
CCA CHORUS – “Hallelujah Chorus”

KATHY MATTEA - "Christ Child’s Lullabye"
KATHY MATTEA - "Angels We Have Heard on High"
CHARLES BILLINGSLEY – “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”
CHARLES BILLINGSLEY – “O Come All Ye Faithful/Step by Step”

The Message

Here’s a big question: why do we make such a big deal out of Christmas? Why do we make such a big deal out of Christmas? Do you know why? Because Christmas is a big deal, that’s why. And what’s the big deal about Christmas? Let me tell you, it is the greatest event in history of mankind. It changed the perception, our perception of God is eternally. Here’s the meaning of Christmas in a nutshell. “In the beginning,” I’m reading directly from John’s gospel, “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the word was God; He was with God in the beginning and the word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only who came from the Father full of grace and truth.” Christmas isn’t about any child being born, Christmas is about God extending Himself into human flesh. He did that for a very, very good and very big reason. He did it to communicate who He is and to share with us and to realize that we might realize what He’s all about. Christmas it’s the beginning.

It’s the beginning of God in flesh. You know the angels appeared to the shepherd’s and they said “go and see the Christ child.” And one of the Sunday school teachers was trying to teach the story of the shepherd’s going to see the Christ child, so she was teaching her eight year olds the lesson and a lot of them seemed to know what she was talking about so she stopped and asked a question. Okay, let me see a show of hands, who knows, who can tell me what the shepherd’s found when they went to Bethlehem. And they all raised their hands, they were all excited and one boy was in the back jumping up and down so she called on him. He says they found Mary and Joseph in the manger. And what we miss in Christmas is often the child. The meaning of it all, and it’s the beginning of God coming into human flesh to express who He is and what He’s all about.

This past year my wife and I came to the conclusion that our family is definitely dwindling. Don’t get the wrong idea, they’re not dying or anything but we don’t have a member of our family who isn’t a child anymore. They’re all grown ups, our youngest child is now 18 years old. He is officially an adult, and as a result of that our children find themselves in different geographical areas and it’s very difficult for us to all get together so our Christmas picture this year consisted of my wife and I and my youngest son. They’re just all grown up. And when you stop and you see your children becoming mature and wonderful adults, you kind of reminisce about some of the times when they were little; do you ever find yourself doing anything like that? Well you’re probably too young for that.

But I remember one of our fondest occasions was keeping the thought of Santa alive in their minds; The idea of giving gifts and a gift giver. And so when they started to wane a little bit we got a little more creative. And one of the things we did is not only did we put the milk and cookies out there and of course take a couple of bits of the cookies and stuff, what we did is we got the boots and we stuck the boots in the ashes and then we walked the boots across our white carpet, now we’re desperate. And then we have the boot tracks going back to the fireplace again and oh man that got them for another year. Donna was, my wife was a great actress. She comes down and she goes, that Santa, oh he makes me mad. Every year he gets the carpet dirty. And we started reminiscing about my daughter’s strangest gift request I’d ever heard of in my life. Have you ever heard of a two year old child asking for a stop sign? Go figure. It wasn’t just one time she asked for it, she started like six weeks before Christmas asking for it but she had a little lisp then, you know she’s two years old you know. A stop sign. I want a stop sign.

She went and sat on Santa’s lap, what do you want for Christmas little girl? A stop sign. Okay, here’s the weirdest thing of all, that same year we walked through a toy store and you know it, about that big, heavy, cute little plastic thing is a stop sign. Go figure. How is it that the toy stores know exactly what the kids want? There’s the stop sign.

A friend of ours, his son, he wanted a back pack for Christmas. Sounds cute and everything, he was four years old. Christmas comes he gets his backpack, he’s so excited he opens it up and he goes, oh, now I can go to school. Isn’t that sad, he was still only four years old and he didn’t get to go to school. But it’s amazing how we ask for things and how we wish for things and desire things when God knows exactly what we want. He knows what we need. He knows our desires and our hopes.

Christmas is a big deal because it’s the beginning; it’s the beginning of a new realization of who God is. Prior to Christmas day, prior to the beginning of this new era and humanity, God was not the God we know today. And the stage of the world, you only had a couple different thoughts of who God was. There was God as the multiple Gods, being the Greek god’s and the Roman gods, which is really a pantheon of different God’s. In fact the Romans and the Greeks both did this. When’d they overcome a certain culture or a city what they would do is in order to keep these citizens under their control is they would take their gods, include them in their pantheon, and they would have all these gods and they controlled the gods in a way. And this is the way they controlled the masses. You have the pantheon of gods and then you had this one tiny little community in Israel that didn’t believe in many gods but believed in one God. And this tiny little group of people who believe there is one God. And up until this point in their life and in their existence, they had worshiped this God who was based upon a salvation by works: do these things and you will be saved. Hear your commandments, follow My commandments. And so their realization of God was, as long as I’m good enough, then God will be good to me. And do you know what? We still practice that and it’s so hard for us to get rid of that in fact, we sing Christmas carols to that effect. Better watch out, better not cry, better watch out I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town. And if you’re not, then he’s not going to bring you the goodies that you want so you got to be good enough.

But Christmas is not about being good enough, Christmas is the beginning of not having to be good enough just being and the being is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He came to give His love. To give us what we need the most, to give us where we can’t comprehend the tremendous joy and the goodness which comes into our lives.

So God’s vision, God’s vision for Christmas, is to share with us and to give us a realization of who He is. And our mission, is very simple: as a man Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. Let your life so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

And so we live in the light of Christ, day by day allowing His light to shine through our lives that Christmas becomes part of us and shines through us 365 days a year. Why is Christmas, why do we make such a big deal out of Christmas? Because Christmas is a big deal. And it’s worth remembering and it’s worth celebrating and it’s worth the realization that Christ is alive today.

Dear Heavenly Father we thank You that You have given us Christmas. That Christmas shines in our lives because 2000 years ago You decided to give us the greatest gift of all. A gift we didn’t even realize we wanted or needed. A gift the world was not even ready for. And yet You gave us the unexpected gift, the gift of a Child. And so we thank You Lord, for that precious beginning. The beginning of new life, the beginning of the realization of Your grace and who You are. The realization of Your mission in us. Now we love You Lord and we praise Your name, Amen.

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