We will continue our sermon series in Acts in the new year and cover portions of chapters 13 - 28 through Easter. In the second half of Acts, I am struck by the early church’s focus on proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples above anything else. We only learn a little about the culture’s morality. By God’s spirit, the early church kept the main thing the main thing. The bible tells us there was resistance to the gospel message and persecution of the disciples, yet the church continued to experience explosive growth. We need to remember to keep the main focus, spreading the Gospel and making disciples, in mind as we celebrate Christmas and not be distracted by the sentiment of the season.
There is the sentiment of Christmas all around us, the feeling we get, and memories of past seasons. The whiff of memories can spark nostalgic notions of the love of family and friends.
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir, And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe. Help to make the season bright…
And so I'm offering this simple phrase To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, in many ways, Merry Christmas to you."
(The Christmas Song)
I have never roasted chestnuts on an open fire. I have gone caroling; I just would never call them Yuletide carols. Many songs this season can create sentiments in new and fresh ways. This goal is alright, but our hearts were made for so much more. My favorite hymn this time of year leads me to worship and express thankfulness for the coming of our savior.
"Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing 'Glory to the new-born king'."
(Hark the Herald Angels Sing)
Remind yourself what it means to know and experience God’s love. He leads you out of darkness and brings light to your life and the healing he offers of body, mind, and soul. He humbled himself (mild he lays his glory by) to give us forgiveness and salvation (born that man no more may die born). He offers us a do-over to begin again – since we are born again (second birth) in Christ. Let's sing these great truths this season and year-round.