What are you planning to do tomorrow? Beyond the predictable. You get extra Brownie points if you make it to the 8:00am service tomorrow at the Methodist Church in Cabrera Avenue. Imagine what it would be like to spend Christmas Day with Jesus. To have a one-to-one with Jesus for the whole day. Imagine. What would it be like? Special? Memorable? Life changing?
If it were possible to spend an ordinary day with Jesus, then there could be no more appropriate day than Christmas Day – the day we celebrate his birthday.
Is it possible? When the angel visited Joseph he said of Jesus, “And they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23). God with us. Think about that.
And one of the last things Jesus promised his friends was this: “I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) “I – will – be – with – you – always. Always. God with us – always. If God is with us, always, then perhaps we need to give more thought to how we can consciously spend the day with him – in his presence. What would a day with Jesus look like? How would it be different? I suggest it would be filled with the things Jesus would do. What would happen if you were to spend the whole of tomorrow doing everything the way Jesus would? In Jesus name? In Jesus presence?
In what way would it be different? In order to live every moment of an ordinary Christmas day with Jesus, we have to begin the day with him. Right?
Here’s a multi-choice quiz to get us started. When does Christmas Day begin?
- At midnight
- When the kids wake up
- When lunch is ready
- After the Queen’s speech
- At dusk the night before
The correct answer is: At dusk the night before. The bible tells us in Genesis 1:5, “There was evening, and there was morning – the first day.”
Throughout the bible’s description of creation, each day begins with night. That is why the Jewish people celebrate the Sabbath from when? At sundown. So according to the Jewish clock, Christmas Day has already begun.
So how can we spend an ordinary Christmas Day with Jesus? Here are five simple steps. When we acknowledge the day begins at night, the first thing we need to do in order to spend an ordinary day with Jesus is to:
1. Get enough sleep
Most of us go to bed exhausted. In fact some of us wake up that way too. Know someone like that? It is hard to be like Jesus when you are sleep deprived.
If you doubt this, try hanging out with someone who is sleep deprived. Odd as it may sound, the most helpful thing many of us could do to spend a day with Jesus would be to go to bed earlier. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalm 127:2)
So get to bed early, unless that is you are coming to our midnight service. OK – so we can make one exception in the year.
I have checked – there is nothing worth watching on TV after midnight. Even if you are playing the role of Father Christmas, Go to bed early. Before you do,
2. Resolve any conflicts before bed
What we think about as we drift off to sleep often shapes how we feel in the morning. The bible says
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Before bedtime, resolve any outstanding family issues. How? Begin with these words “I am sorry for…”
As the angels declared this very night, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14).
Be at peace with your partner or family members before your head hits the pillow and you will sleep peacefully, you will wake refreshed and celebrate the rest of Christmas Day as God intended.
3. Invite Jesus to be with you
What are you normally like first thing in the morning? Someone once said there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love to wake up in the morning, and those who hate people who love to wake up in the morning. And marriages usually have one of each.
A newly wed wife was asked “Now that you are married, do you sometimes wake up grumpy in the morning?” “No” she replied, “I let him sleep.”
Jesus honours our freedom, so he usually doesn’t impose himself on people who aren’t open to him. He goes where he is invited, so invite him into your Christmas Day when you wake up tomorrow. Your invitation could be as simple as “Lord, before I get up I want to invite you to join me in everything I do today. Fill me with your Spirit. Thank you for your willingness to live in and through me.”
Knowing Jesus is with you tomorrow might cause you to do some things differently this Christmas. It might influence what you say to others. It might influence what TV programmes you watch. But would that be a bad thing?
Instead, how about reading the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke – how about reading it as a family? Tomorrow is intended to be a holiday.
The word comes from the old English for holy day. Christmas Day is intended to be a holy day. A day of rest. If it doesn’t feel like it at any point, claim the promise of Jesus, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
4. Love as Jesus loved
Lets face it – unless you work for one of the emergency services, you should not be working tomorrow. Instead, use the day to demonstrate the love of Jesus for others. Think about any neighbours you may have who live alone. What can you do to make their Christmas more meaningful? And if you live alone, you are still part of God’s family in Virginia water so join us for our 10:00am all-age communion service, and greet your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Three simple ways you can train yourself to be more loving.
Love by listening more
Jesus was the greatest teacher but he listened. He often asked questions and waited for people’s answers. Sometime he taught by simply asking questions. You can become more loving by listening more. One of the simplest ways of doing so is by asking questions. You can also use the phrase “tell me more”. When someone is talking, resist the urge to comment. Instead, when they have finished, look at them and say sincerely, “tell me more” Of course you have to mean it and pay attention.
You can’t love in a hurry and you can’t listen in a hurry either. If you use this phrase regularly, over time you will become a more loving and patient person.
Try it tomorrow. Love by listening more.
Love with sensitive touch
Jesus reached out and touched the untouchables in this world. He was comfortable being with men, women and children and they felt safe around him. A recent university study has shown that we need eight to ten meaningful touches a day for our emotional health. A warm handshake, a touch on the arm or the shoulder or a hug (if reciprocated) can be a huge blessing. We need to use appropriate touch to connect with people as Jesus did. For our own sakes as well as theirs. You will find it will help you become more loving, and people will experience you as a more loving person. Love with sensitive touch.
Love with words of love
Jesus often spoke words of love to the people he came in contact with. Sometimes they were words of grace, other times they were words of truth. Both came from a heart of love. The apostle John describes the birth of Jesus in these terms “The word became flesh … full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
Notice John describes Jesus as both grace-giving and truth-telling. So can we. Share the love of Jesus this Christmas involves speak words of grace.
This might mean offering words of comfort, giving encouragement, offering thanks and expressing appreciation. And we need to speak words of truth.
This might mean asking forgiveness, seeking reconciliation, or resolving conflict. Speak words of love this Christmas. Three ways to become more loving this Christmas – by listening more, with sensitive touch and with words of love. Finally, as the day draws to an end,
5. Review your day with Jesus
Reviewing your day with Jesus is a little like the way sports teams evaluate. When athletes, footballers or cricketers want to improve their performance, they spend time reviewing their play on video. By doing so they can learn from their mistakes and be encouraged by their progress. Take time toward the end of Christmas Day, perhaps in solitude, to wind back and replay the film of your day with Jesus. As you remember those good things that happened give him thanks. When you remember where you may have failed, confess them, receive his forgiveness and take steps to put anything right with others before going to bed.
Five simple steps to spending Christmas Day with Jesus. (summarise)
And if you are not yet sure whether you know Jesus well enough to spend a day with him, then join us for our Christianity Explored course starting here on Thursday 31st January. And if you are sure you don’t yet know Jesus, and want to, the good news is that you can spend Christmas Day with Jesus. There is no better day to begin. In the Christmas story, the poor local shepherds as well as the wealthy foreign kings came to Jesus, recognised Jesus, knelt before Jesus, worshipped Jesus, received Jesus.
“to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13).
Tonight we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus is here with us now. If you ask him, he will come into your life. He will be there when you fall asleep tonight. He will be watching over you as you sleep. He will be there as you awake tomorrow morning. He will be by your side during the day. Ready to guide, to advise, to forgive, to cleanse, to make whole, to give meaning, to bring peace, to give hope – So that you will want to spend Boxing Day with him also – and every day with Jesus.
With Jesus no day is an ordinary day. Jesus transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. I invite you to spend an extraordinary Christmas Day with Jesus, and every day for the rest of your life, and then on into eternity.
With grateful thanks to John Ortberg and the Ordinary Day with Jesus resources for the inspiration behind this talk.