Is That All There Is?
Written by Reverend Bill Ferguson, Pastor of Sherrill United Methodist Church, Sherrill, Arkansas on Monday, December 22, 2008 .
Scripture Reading ………………….. Luke 2: 8 – 20
Referring Scripture …………………. Micah 5:2
The Words of God for the people of God, thanks be to God!
“Is that All There Is?” That’s the title of a song sung by the late and popular singer Peggy Lee. The song relates the story of a young woman’s disappointments and her expectations along life’s journey. She questions the reason and significance of events in her life. For a secular society that doesn’t fully understand or appreciate the significance of the Christmas season, the phrase “Is that all there is?” just may be an appropriate expression for the unbeliever once the Christmas season has faded into memory.
For many of us, Christmas is over. We’ve made our New Year’s resolutions and we have either taken down our decorations or are waiting until New Year’s Day to put them away. The Nativity has been taken down and we’ve put Jesus back in the attic, where he will remain until next year. The department stores took down their holiday displays and decorations after the stores closed on Christmas Eve. Now they are running “After Christmas Specials” in the paper, on radio and on TV. The joyful Christmas music that we heard while shopping has been replaced with contemporary sounds. Now we get back to business as usual. Simply put, “Santa has left the building.”
For many, the excitement of the Holiday season is over. Now comes the Holiday Letdown or what some might call “the after Christmas Blues.” This emotional letdown is a condition that many of us come to terms with every year. The rising tempo of the pre-Christmas festival builds with excitement until after the big day and then there’s quiet and lots of stuff to do and things to put away and diets to return to. Yes, after the excitement comes the quiet. We return to normal and pick up where we left off before the Holidays. Friends, it doesn’t have to be all there is.
The night of Jesus’ birth was exciting for Mary and Joseph. This was their first child. There before their eyes was the Miracle Baby whose coming into the world had been announced by an angel. The shepherds too were excited by what they had seen and heard that glorious night. Luke 2: 13 tells us; “Suddenly a multitude of the heavenly hosts appeared with the angel, praising God” and heralding the Messiah’s birth.
It wouldn’t be long before Mary and Joseph would face the ordinary tasks of caring for a new baby and all the accompanying responsibilities. This happens to all new parents (first the excitement and then the routine). After the excitement died down, the shepherds would be back on the hillside tending their sheep. All the elements were in place for an emotional letdown, which often follows an emotional high.
I don’t believe that they experienced any “after-Christmas blues,” however. Luke 2: 19 – 20 tells us that Mary didn’t forget all that happened, and the shepherds couldn’t easily forget what they had heard and seen. The angel’s message had proven true, and their lives were filled with hope and anticipation. The shepherds glorified God and shared the wonderful news with others. They had a life changing experience in Bethlehem on that wondrous night.
Friends, there’s no reason or need for an after-Christmas letdown. We have the full story. Jesus came to die for our sins, then conquered death for us by rising from the grave. We have more truth of the story to ponder and more reason to glorify God than that young couple and the shepherds did on that first Christmas night.
Today’s scripture message is asking: What will you take with you from Christmas, when you return to school or work – some left over Christmas cookies, a turkey sandwich, a few gifts and some warm holiday memories, or something more? Like those shepherds long ago, you too can have a life changing experience.
Luke 2: 20 tells us that “The shepherds went back to work, glorifying and praising God for everything that they had heard and seen, which had happened just as they had been told.” After hearing the announcement of Messiah’s birth, after visiting Bethlehem where they found the baby Jesus lying in the manger, after telling people the amazing things they had heard and seen about this child – after all this, the shepherds went back to the fields, and their daily routine. But they returned from that first Christmas with something new – their hearts were full of praise for what they had experienced. Their circumstances were the same, but they themselves were different – they had encountered Christ the Lord.
Today’s scripture message is asking: “Have you encountered Messiah this Christmas, perhaps, through his Word or a new appreciation of his coming? When someone asks, “How was your holiday?”, what will you say? Friends, with Jesus in your heart, you can go back to school or work with joy and a living witness to others – glorifying and praising God for everything you have heard and seen. As the words of an old hymn says: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.”
Let Us Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise Your Name. Thank You for Your wonderful gift. Guide us Father that everyday will be Christmas in our hearts all year long. In Your Son’s Name we pray. Amen.