December 15, 2016
In the first part of the sermon series, “The Spirit of Christmas,” we learn that the Spirit of Christmas is not a general holiday feeling or gift-giving, or even the proverbial “good will toward men” acts of kindness we may perform during the season. Pastor Armstrong has us dig deep into the Christmas story in Luke 1 and 2 to learn from the eight people who encountered The Christ: Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, Zechariah, the angels, shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. All of them respond with immediate worship.
What was it about the Messiah encounter that caused them to worship God? They knew by the power of the Holy Spirit, that they were witness to the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior! Pastor Armstrong explains that “Since the time of the Messiah, the Spirit of Christmas has been the worship of the Messiah.” This is the call of the Christ follower. Non-Christians don’t see a need for worshipping Jesus in order to celebrate Christmas. They believe you can have Christmas without Christ, and substitute the cultural symbols such as Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, gift-giving, etc., to gain that “holiday cheer.” But, Pastor Armstrong declares that “…Without the worship of Christ, Christmas then becomes what our culture has made it — an act of consumerism.”
So how do we cultivate this Spirit of Christmas in us? I believe gratitude is the fuel we need to feed this Christmas Spirit of worship. And it’s something we can keep in our hearts long after the Christmas season has passed.
In Luke 1:46, Mary rejoices and worships from a heart of gratitude towards God. “My soul magnified the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Her gratitude fuels her worship of the Savior and God, the Father.
Many in our society consider Thanksgiving the beginning of the “holiday season.” It makes sense, because it is the holiday of giving thanks, and it is a rightful start to preparing our hearts for Christmas, a time when we “give thanks” to Jesus, who by our faith in Him saves us from our sins and gives us eternal life! (John 3:16)
Maintaining a grateful heart keeps us always pointing towards the giver of all good gifts – our heavenly Father, and makes it impossible not to worship the Savior at Christmas, God’s greatest gift to us! If we keep this mindset even in our daily walk, we will be continually worshipping Christ and therefore, will keep the Spirit of Christmas in our hearts year-round.