Institutional First Baptist Church Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
December 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Subject
Is the Original Purpose of Christmas Diminishing?
Description
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr. Sunday December 21, 2014
Is the Original Purpose of Christmas Diminishing?
“...good tidings of great joy...glory, peace, and goodwill...” Luke 2:10, 14.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2014 and it 
begins the week in which Christmas will be observed. The 
date is December 25 although no biblical evidence exists 
to document the accuracy of that date. Only two of the four 
Gospels included the nativity of Jesus and neither of them 
designated the date nor month of his birth. Yet, December 
25th as been institutionalized, or widely accepted as the 
birthday of Jesus Christ. 
Since this is Sunday before Christmas 2014, the 
sermon for today was planned to both commemorate this 
day and briefly critique the status of Christmas especially 
in the United States of America. It has been entitled, 
Is the Original Purpose of Christmas Diminishing? 
It will include the following four considerations, namely: 
the Biblical silence on the date of Jesus’ birth, the 
beginning of Christmas, the angelic promise of Christmas, 
and your response to Christmas. 
As background for the sermon, attention is focused 
on the birth of Jesus as found in the Bible. According to 
Matthew’s narrative, “wise men from the east to Jerusalem 
saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews...” ( Matt. 
2"1-2 ). His account also includes the visit to the manger 
at which time three gifts were given to the baby Jesus; 
they were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is possibly from 
those gifts came the legend of The Three Kings’ visit to 
and gifts for baby Jesus. 
Luke, in contrast, emphasized the angelic 
announcement to the shepherds ( Luke 2:9, 15 ). He stated 
that the visitors were shepherds to whom an angel had 
earlier spoken as they were watching the flock at night. 
While both Matthew and Luke included the nativity in 
their narrative on the nativity, neither of them indicated 
the date of that event. This biblical fact leads to the first 
dimension of the sermon which is - The biblical silence on 
the birth time of Jesus. 
“The Bible offers few clues: Celebrations of Jesus’ 
Nativity is not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the 
date is not given nor even the time year.” Some critics 
viewing Luke 2:18 suggest the time might have been in 
the spring instead of the cold winter of December when 
the “sheep might well have been corralled.” Instead of 
pondering the time issue, humankind should contented 
with the fact that Jesus was born. 
Closely akin to question of time when Jesus was 
born is the inquiry regarding the start of Christmas. 
“There is no mention of birth celebrations in the 
writings of early Christian writer...(200 AD ). Origen 
of Alexandria referred to the “Roman celebrations of 
of births ( including Jesus’ ) a ‘pagan”. Centuries later, 
a British anthropologist, Sir James Frazier, in his study 
of religions concluded that December 25th might have 
been accepted as the birth date of Jesus to lure 
primitive sun worshipers to accept Jesus as the Son 
of God rather than to worship the celestial sun as the 
god of the universe. They worshiped the winter solstice 
as the beginning of longer days. The church fathers, it is 
assumed, decided to place the birth of Jesus to coincide 
with the primitive worshipers’ celebration and, hopefully, 
evangelize them into Christianity. 
This discussion leads next to the question of how did 
the celebration of Christmas originate. There are several 
speculative views, of which one seems plausible; it is 
hypothesized that a religious group was holding a mass in 
memory of the birth of Jesus. Further, the service 
attracted so many celebrants that a decision was made 
to hold it annually and, because it was in memory of 
Jesus the Christ, to label it as Christmas. No attempt is 
herein made to authenticate this supposition, instead 
the focus will now be directed to the second dimension of 
the sermon which is - What were the promises associated 
with the birth of Jesus? As noted in Luke 2:13, there are 
three promised of Christ/Christmas; they are glory to God, 
peace on earth, and goodwill toward men. Beloved, these 
lofty, cherished, and needed, components of the promise of 
Christmas are far from being actualized in America and 
throughout the world. They are elusive, difficult to attain, 
often denied, and frequently rejected. A partial listing of 
deviations from these lofty ideals of glory, peace, and good 
will include: the white cops randomly killing of African 
American males with no indictment by grand juries, the 
increasing episodes of school shootings in America, the 
Congressional great divide on issues such as pay equity, 
gender equality, general welfare, sexual atrocities on 
college and university campuses, false boom threats, 
armed robberies, home invasions, child snatching, and 
car jacking. Our nation is not alone in social pathologies 
for the past week there was the hostage incident in 
Australia and the school shooting in Pakistan where 142 
lives were lost. Oh! My beloved, is the Promise of Christmas 
being actualized or is it fading into past memories? What 
would Longfellow think if he were to reappear on earth 
after having penned his immortal song, I heard the bells 
on Christmas Day? Selective excerpts from that carol 
include: I heard the bells on Christmas day 
Their old familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet the words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good will to men. 
Upon taking a look at changing America, Longfellow 
lamented: 
And in despair I bowed my head: 
"There is no peace on earth," I said, 
"For hate is strong and mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good will to men." 
Instead of concluding that the purpose of Christmas 
was diminishing, Longfellow was optimistic as reflected 
in the next verse of his song - 
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep 
God is not dead, nor does He sleep 
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail 
With peace on earth goodwill toward men.
This optimism of Longfellow leads to the last to the 
dimension of the sermon which is - What is your 
response to Christmas? Is it a time of spiritual 
reflections and thanking God for the sojourn of another 
year? Is it a time of showing kindness toward the less 
fortunate? Is it a period for shopping, viewing parades, 
being thrilled by lighting of the Christmas tree? Is it 
a time for touring neighborhood to see the decorations? 
Is it a time for travel, enjoying a abundant and diverse 
Christmas dinner. Is it a time for the traditional exchange 
of gifts? Beloved, as listed herein there are more secular 
activities that surround Christmas than are there actions 
consistent with the angelic promise that the birth of 
Jesus would bring great joy to all people, God to God, 
peace on the earth, and goodwill toward men! Hence, it 
must be concluded that the promise of Christmas has 
diminished. Amen!
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