It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the prisoner, “What are you charged with?”

“Doing my Christmas shopping early,” replied the defendant.

“That’s no offense,” said the judge. “How early were you doing this shopping?”

“Before the store opened,” the prisoner answered.

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A little, rich kid walked up to the Santa Claus at the local mall and asked, “So, what can I do for you?” It is hard to say what he could have done for Santa, but we know Christmas isn’t so much about what we can do for Christ, although giving in His name is a beautiful thing to do. It is primarily about what He has done for us.

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Secularism and commercialism have tried to silence Jesus at Christmas—or at least shove Him into a corner. Schoolchildren have a Christmas break, but aren’t allowed to acknowledge why or even call it a Christmas break. A woman in a store picked up a Christmas-themed religious recording and said, “I can’t believe it—the Christians are trying to horn in on Christmas now.” I would not for a moment try to take away from your celebration Santa Claus, Scrooge, the Grinch,
Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life. Still, we must remember it is His day.

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The Queen of England has two birthdays. Her actual birthday is April 21, but the decision makers wanted to celebrate it when the weather is more pleasant, so her official birthday is the second Saturday in June. In parts of Eastern Europe Jan. 6 is still celebrated as the birthday of Jesus, while in the west we observe Dec. 25. Since we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, Dec. 25 is just as good a day as another. Perhaps it is best to think of celebrating the birth of Christ every day.

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Under the Julian calendar, Christmas fell on Jan. 6. When the new Gregorian calendar came into use, Christmas was moved to Dec. 25; but some in Britain kept celebrating it on Jan. 6. Some of them moved to the New World and kept on celebrating Christmas in Appalachia on Jan. 6. A few churches still celebrate it then and call it “Old Christmas.” There is a sense, however, in which Christmas should never get old to us.

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One of the great mystery stories of G.K. Chesterton is entitled The Man Who Was Thursday. Jesus is the “man who was Christmas,” for Christmas is embodied in a person. We sing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” but Christmas is not really a season. In the mid-South farmers used to try to get their crop to market in December so they could have some “Christmas money,” but Christmas is not money. We say we are going home for Christmas, but Christmas is not a date on the calendar. We talk about our Christmas dinner, but Christmas is neither a feast nor a fancy dessert. Christmas is a person.

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The late Dr. Ward Patterson had a varied career as a writer, campus minister and college professor. As a young man, he
determined to seek adventure and travel around the world on a motorcycle. While traveling, he collected artifacts and did
rubbings of famous monuments and inscriptions. Wherever he went, he made friends. As he was traveling around the world, he found himself in a Muslim country on Christmas, where all Christian celebrations were forbidden. He wanted to do something to observe Christmas, so he bought some candy and gave it to children playing in the streets. They did not understand what he was doing, but he did. He didn’t receive anything other than the joy he gave to the children. He learned the truth of Jesus’ saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He learned that giving is always a good way to observe Christmas.

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In a Native American community, they have an interesting custom. After midnight service on Christmas Eve, one family takes the doll from the manger home with them. They keep the Christ child in their home for the 12 days of Christmas. It is
considered a great honor to be the family chosen to do this. They take the Christ child home with them. That is really the dream we all share-to take Christ home with us.

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A little girl, dressed as an angel in a Christmas pageant was told to come down the center aisle. The child asked, “Do you want me to walk or fly?” You feel as though she almost could have flown. Don’t ever lose the wonder and mystery of Christmas.

Every year I’m reminded of those words of the late Peter Marshall: “When Christmas doesn’t make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts and fill your eyes with tears and make you all soft and warm inside, then you will know that something inside of you is dead” (James T. Garrett, God’s Gift).



								
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“When Jesus
came the first time, He came in a manger. When He comes again, He is coming
in majesty. The first time, He shed His royal blood for our redemption. When
He comes again, He is going to be dressed in royal robes to reign in righteousness.
The first time, He came to a crucifixion. When He comes again, He is coming
to a coronation. No longer will He wear a crown of thorns, but He will wear
a diadem of glory. The first time He came, He was despised and rejected of men.
When He comes again, every knee will bow. The clouds will be resplendent in
glory as He triumphantly steps out of heaven. And we will meet Him face to face.
Hallelujah – it may be sooner than we think!”

 – from The Wonder
of It All
by Adrian Rogers

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There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. (Erma Bombeck)

Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his presents remembered. (Phyllis Diller)

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Adrian Rogers wrote: “When Jesus came the first time, He came in a manger. When He comes again, He is coming in majesty. The first time, He shed His royal blood for our redemption. When He comes again, He is going to be dressed in royal robes to reign in righteousness. The first time, He came to a crucifixion. When He comes again, He is coming to a coronation. No longer will He wear a crown of thorns, but He will wear a diadem of glory. The first time He came, He was despised and rejected of men. When He comes again, every knee will bow. The clouds will be resplendent in glory as He triumphantly steps out of heaven. And we will meet Him face to face. Hallelujah – it may be sooner than we think!”

(from The Wonder of It All by Adrian Rogers)

 

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A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season–overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
Finally the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it anymore and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”
From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, “Don’t worry we already crucified Him.” For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
Don’t forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.

(from Sermon Fodder and Joke A Day Ministries. To subscribe go to http://www.sermonfodder.com)

 

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In the Peanuts comic strip, one of the little girls says that Christmas is a
time for kindness and joy, and a time when we forgive one another. Charlie
Brown responds by saying, “Why just at Christmas? Why can’t we be kind and
forgiving all through the year?” She looks at Charlie Brown and says,
“What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?”

Wouldn’t it be great if the lessons we learned at Christmas and the attitudes
we consider appropriate at Christmas could be exercised the year round?
Wouldn’t it be great if we would risk being called religious fanatics for that
purpose?

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, he takes us to the
land of Narnia. When Narnia is living under the authority of the witch, it is
“always winter, but never Christmas.” Can you imagine how
discouraging that would be to a child? Still, there are people today who are
living in a winter, and Christmas never comes to them. What joy could be theirs
if only they would allow Christmas to come to their hearts!

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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Christmas has not always been celebrated on December 25. For centuries the
Eastern Orthodox Church observed January 6 as the celebration of the birth of
Christ. Eventually most of the world adopted December 25, but there are still
areas in eastern Europe and the Middle East where January 6 is Christmas.

This was known to the first settlers who came to America, and in some areas of
the New World January 6 was called Old Christmas. Of course, Christmas is never
old. Every year it comes to us with newness. We cherish the familiar traditions
of our families and of our own experience, and yet there is a freshness about
Christmas every year! The newness never seems to wear off. For a believer there
really is no such thing as an old Christmas.

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