Today's sermon is going to be very short for a number of reasons. One is because I have been very discouraged this week and unable to get a lot done. Another is because it's a somewhat special occasion.
Today is Christmas-in-July. I was surprised to find in my research that this festive day is very widely celebrated. Though not everyone can agree on exactly what day it falls on. I go with what I got from the TV networks: The second saturday in July.
There are a number of reasons for Christmas-in-July. It builds up anticipation for the main event. It's a reminder of that promise we made to ourselves to keep the Christmas spirit all year. It gives the economy a little shot in the arm. It makes people happy. It gives our friends below the equator a chance to sing "Jingle Bells" when it actually makes sense. But for me, it is a reminder that Jesus exists all year, not just on December 25th.
I often wonder why for so many people, Jesus never got out of that manger. I recall an illustration from one of my Dad's sermons. A Christian woman had just lost a very dear Christian friend. A nonchristian friend was trying to comfort her and said "it's all right. She's up in Heaven with the baby Jesus."
How can people hear the story of Jesus' birth and not understand that the baby who slept in a manger grew up? He lived as a man, had a ministry, changed the world, and died a horrific death as a sacrifice for mankind. He conquored death, rose to life and ascended into Heaven.
Yet even some Christians are guilty of doing the same thing. They give certain days to the Lord- usually Sundays. The others, they keep for themselves. It's almost as if they're trying to live a double life, living for Christ on Sunday and for themselves every other day of the week.
On this festive summer day, I appeal to everyone to remember that Christ did not remain a baby in a manger. If you've never accepted Jesus, you need to know that He did grow up and die for your sins, and even now waits for you to accept His gift of eternal life which He paid for with His blood.
If you have, then I encourage you to live your life for the Master. Live every day as if it was Christmas, because the King who was born on Christmas still reigns today among those who have accepted Him.
Once again, Merry Christmas!
Pastor Oren Otter
July 8, 2006
Today's scripture reading
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: