What's Missing (Acts 4:12)(Christmas Family Service)
Topic: Acts Passage: Acts 4:12
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
December 20th, 2015
I. Kathy's Christmas Story
Listen to this holiday tale and see if you can figure out what's missing?
“Kathy was excited about her trip home over the _____mas holiday. As she sat in the airport waiting for her flight, she saw several children running through the terminal, _____mas gifts in hand, and her mind was filled from images from _____mases past. When she finally arrived home, her old neighborhood looked so festive with _____mas lights on every house. Walking through the front door, the smell of _____mas cookies filled the air. Her mom and grandmother met her with a flurry of hugs and kisses. “We knew it would be just like the song,” said her grandmother, “I'll be home for _____mas”. After greeting other family members, Kathy sat down next to the _____mas tree to catch her breath. Her favorite _____mas songs were playing in living room, and her nieces and nephews talked about their plans for _____mas vacation. As Kathy inspected some of the _____mas presents under the tree, there was a knock at the door. Surprise, surprise! A group _____mas carolers were singing on the front lawn: “We wish you a merry _____mas, and a Happy New Year!” The next day on _____mas morning, Kathy awoke to one of her favorite _____mas traditions: homemade cinnamon rolls! The _____mas dinner that day was even better. As the day drew to a close, Kathy thought it just might have been one of the best _____mases ever.”
I'm guessing you figured out what was missing from that story. It sounds pretty funny when Christ is missing from Christmas, doesn't it? But what is stranger to you: a missing word, or missing worship? Was it more troubling to talk about “_____mas” instead of Christmas, or that Kathy's Christmas contained so many holiday traditions, but nothing of Jesus.
But some may ask, “Why does it matter? Christmas might have religious roots, but you can have a very Merry Christmas without religion.” And to a certain extent I would agree with that, especially since Christmas means many different things to many different people.
But here's how I would answer that question about why it matters. Christmas is one day. But what about every day? You might find joy in giving and receiving gifts, your heart might be warmed by familiar songs, and lights, and good times with family and friends. But that's just one day. What about every day? And what about your 'one day'?
The other part of my answer involves what we might call “the dark underbelly of Christmas”. You don't have to search too hard or too far to find people stressed out, and short-tempered, and fighting, and avoiding issues, and disappointed because their expectations are not being met. It's fairly easy to find examples of gross materialism, of people being marginalized, and children with an unhealthy sense of entitlement. And if we're honest with ourselves, we only have to look as far as our own hearts to find what is not very merry, what is not joyous and festive. Charlie Brown said it best:
I think there must be something wrong with me. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.
Couldn't it be that in what some call the 'religious roots' of Christmas is, in fact, the key to truly experiencing the joy, the light, the goodness, the love, the peace, the belonging, and the hope we hear so much about this time of year? Couldn't it be that Christmas is much, much more than we've ever experienced ever thought it could be? I'm here to tell you that is exactly right. How do I know? Because 1) I've experienced it myself, and more importantly 2) for 2000 years, that's exactly what the Bible has claimed.
II. What's Missing in You?
You see, thinking about what's missing from Christmas must always begin with thinking about what's missing from your own life. Yes, I know there are lots of things you want this Christmas in terms of healed relationships, and fixed finances, and health challenges, and living accommodations, and romance, and your kids' attitudes, and the list goes on. But through His word, God reminds us that even if he fixed all of those things, even if He changed everything we desperately wanted changed, even if we got it all, we would ultimately still have nothing; we would ultimately still be hungry for more.
Listen to what a fisherman turned preacher named Peter, one of the first followers of Jesus, said about the man who changed his life. He said in Acts 4:12...
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
While we give a lot of gifts at Christmas, God gave the greatest Christmas gift to us when He gave us that name by which we must be saved. That name is the name of Jesus. What does he mean by “be saved” or “salvation”. He simply means being right with God. And being right with God means life, not death. Fullness, not emptiness. Hope, not despair. Joy, not sorrow. It means being found, not lost; being free, not shackled.
And only Jesus can make that possible. He was born to live a perfect life, that He might die to be our perfect sacrifice. And He rose again from the dead to accomplish a perfect rescue for us. He's what you're looking for. He's what your hungry for. I promise you.
While we search far and wide, or whole we keep going back to the same broken solutions expecting different results, God has told us very clearly that “there is salvation in no one else [or we could add, 'nothing else']”.
And the more we understand this, the more we will be troubled by a Christ-less Christmas. Not necessarily troubled by how the world out there does things. But troubled by our experience; by our own hearts. As you use the word Christmas this season, you will be speaking the name of Christ more than you might know. But it means very little that his name is on your lips, if He is not also in your heart. Let me pray and ask God to help all of us know the joy of a Christ-full, a Christ-centered Christmas; of a Christ-centered life, and eternity!