“Christmas For Dummies”
December 18, 2015
Note: Today’s message has a bit more personal reflection but gets to the spiritual point toward the end!
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
Yesterday we did some shopping at “Ollies”, a colorful bargain store. Their basic pitch is the sophisticated phrase, “Good Stuff Cheap”. Ollies makes no pretense to being a fancy store and seems pretty comfortable being just what it is with folksy signs all though the store such as the one to the left. Just walking through the store reading the signs makes the visit interesting.
They offer free coffee while you shop but I suppose most folks these days who enjoy a good cup of coffee would find it a bit disappointing since it’s made in one of those old percolators that sort of looks like the kind you might have seen at a filling station 30 years ago and appears to sit all day till the pot is empty. But’s that’s also part of the “ambience”.
Brooksyne and I are proud members of their customer loyalty program known as “Ollies Army” which makes this claim, “The bigger the cheapskate you are, the more you’ll save!”. The chain started here in central Pennsylvania in the early-eighties but has grown to over 200 “semi-lovely” stores and there just might be one near you.
Through the years whenever I am at Ollies I look through their large assortment of “Dummies” books. In fact back in 2004 when I left a full-time job with Marketplace Chaplains to devote more time to Daily Encouragement Net I used the “Dummies” series of books to learn how to make web pages, podcast and use WordPress. Generally, regardless of what subject I am interested in, these books contain more than what I need to accomplish the purpose I set out for. You see, I really don’t consider myself an expert on anything but actually know a little bit about a lot of subjects, at least enough to get by. In regard to knowledge I consider myself a “generalist” in that I know a little about quite a range of subjects as I have an eclectic range of interests.
Basically if there’s something that needs done I just figure a way to do it and the Dummies books have been helpful. When we first got married and were relatively poor I managed to swap out both the engine and transmission on the little Datsun pickup truck we had at the time. And that was long before they had the “Dummies” books. Basically I just paid careful attention to how I took the old one out and then followed those steps in reverse to put the new one in. And in both cases the truck ran fine. Frankly I couldn’t imagine doing that now!
The Dummies series of books use a title that is purposefully attention getting and even insulting, probably a great marketing strategy given how well they’ve done! The series started out with a goal of breaking down how to use technology with the first title in 1991 called “DOS for Dummies”. Readers of the series actually aren’t dummies but rather appreciate the non-technical writing style and humor.
So please don’t take me as being irreverent here but today let us consider the topic of “Christmas For Dummies”. Although I would hope most people still have some idea what Christmas is all about, but as Biblical knowledge decreases and secularists cry “foul” every time the Bible or the baby Jesus is mentioned at Christmas, we see less truth and more accommodation to the world’s views.
There is actually a book in the series titled “Christianity For Dummies” and on the Dummies website they have an article from that book “What Is Christmas?” and one paragraph does a good job of getting to the bare essentials. “Christmas is the observance of Jesus’ humble birth to a virgin in a stable in Bethlehem. The holiday also celebrates the events surrounding his birth, such as an angel’s appearance to shepherds, telling them to visit the newborn king.” Now that’s a pretty good summary definition and I especially appreciate that the author recognizes the unique nature of our Lord’s birth “to a virgin” which has been a common doctrine to attack.
The Biblical narratives on the birth of Christ are found in Matthew and Luke. The entire account can be read in a short time. Apart from this material we really don’t have any additional references in Scripture to His birth as far as many of the details we are curious about. However there are some powerful theological allusions in John’s prologue and in the Epistles.
The focus is on why He was born and that question is dealt with in each of the Gospel accounts in the message from the angel.
“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
“Glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the major purpose for sending Jesus to earth, according to the messenger from heaven, was “because He will save His people from their sins”. Our greatest need was met through Jesus. In addition we see His miraculous power unleashed as He healed the sick, raised the dead, and drove out demons from those possessed. He modeled holiness, purity, self-control and showed us how to love those who are unlovely, care for those who are weak and how to turn the other cheek when attacked unfairly. Above all He showed us how to put other’s needs before our own when He responded in prayer to You in the garden of Gethsemane, “If it be possible, take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” Jesus laid down His physical life that we might have a redeemed life now and forevermore. Thank You for sending Jesus, and thank You, Jesus, that You came. Amen.
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“Born to Save Us” Video Brentwood Singers
“Mary Did You Know” Video Mark Lowry
“All Is Well” Video Point Of Grace
Article from Dummies website on Christmas
Article on “For Dummies” series of books
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” Video Outstanding presentation with background story and touching photos (Artist not identified), but appears to be produced by a local church. This would be a powerful video to use in a Christmas Eve service.
“In Remembrance of Me” pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.
“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message. This year we dedicate this to my Aunt Mary, who happens to me my last surviving aunt or Uncle on either side. Her husband, my Uncle Don, passed away early this year.
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down on this archived message)