While I confess I am still taking my much needed social media sabbatical, as promised I wanted to share the talk I gave a few weeks back for a ladies Christmas event at my church.
This talk seemed especially relevant in light of our Christmas this year – just another reminder that God is not random I suppose.
So without any further ramblings, please find my talk, titled “An Everlasting Christmas” below:
For those of you here this morning who know me this probably won’t come as a surprise, and for those who don’t know me, well, maybe you won’t be surprised either.
I. Love. Christmas.
I love everything about Christmas.
I love Christmas decorations, I love Christmas trees, I love the food, I love giving (ok, and getting) gifts, I love the time spent with family.
I love it all.
I love it so much that I actually have almost enough Christmas earrings to go from Thanksgiving to Christmas without having to wear the same pair twice.
And I confess, Christmas music begins around July in my house.
For those of you here who do know me you probably are already aware that I inherited my love of Christmas from my mom.
Growing up, Christmas was a pretty major event in my house. I mean, most people “decorate” for Christmas, but my mom DECORATES for Christmas.
It’s hard to NOT get excited about Christmas surrounded by all that.
Allow me to give you some perspective – you know when you walk into Kohls or JC Penny and you see that cute little Christmas section? Yeah, my mom’s whole HOUSE makes that look pretty UNimpressive.
It’s IMpressive to say the least.
And now that I have my own house, I still love to usher in the Christmas season with music, lights, the works. Although my house isn’t quite up to par with my Mom’s (yet!), I do have a lot of special decorations that always make me happy when I pull them out.
For example, I have a Christmas dish set that I inherited from my dear grandmother. Now, this isn’t your average 8/10-piece dish set. I could probably invite most of Franklin County over and I would have enough plates, bowls, cups, etc.
It’s the real deal.
And I just love pulling it out every year to enjoy all those memories, and to see how beautiful it makes my table look.
It really spruces things up.
See what I did there? Spruce? Christmas tree?
But, no matter how much I love those plates, or my mom’s décor, all of Christmas eventually has to come down.
Without fail every year, sometime in January…ok, maybe February, my dishes go away, the lights come down, my mom’s house goes back to normal.
It’s sad, isn’t it?
If you’re anything like me, you may wish every year that you could just leave the decorations up.
That you could celebrate Christmas all year long.
Well, I am here to tell you this morning that it is actually possible to celebrate Christmas forever.
No, I’m not going to advocate for leaving lights up all year long – although that’s not such a bad idea.
I’m here to tell you about Heaven.
Now, you may be thinking it’s a bit of a stretch to akin Heaven to an all year long, you may even say everlasting, Christmas celebration, but hear me out.
While the lights and the dish settings, and in my mom’s case the Santa figurine collections, are a large part of the “Christmas experience,” I think what we all REALLY love is the Christmas time “feeling.”
The feeling of peace and love and joy and just happiness that we all feel around Christmas time.
The feelings, or emotions, that make the season so special.
The feelings that we always talk about wanting to have last all year long.
These feelings, these emotions, these words, are a large part of how we describe Heaven.
Revelation 21:4 says: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
This verse is talking about Heaven.
So, if in Heaven there is NO more death, no more mourning, no more crying, and no more pain, then by definition there MUST be life, and peace, and joy, and happiness.
Thus, Heaven is kind of like an eternal, everlasting Christmas time “feeling.”
All of eternity, spent in the presence of God, the creator of Heaven and earth, with continual peace, love, joy…
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
I am all for an everlasting Christmas feeling!
On the road to this everlasting Christmas feeling there is a bit of a speed bump.
Well, it’s more of a roadblock actually.
This roadblock is called sin.
Now I could spend all morning defining the ins and outs of sin, but I think my daughter’s children’s Bible does it the best:
Sin is badness.
We are told in the Bible, in Romans 3:23, that we ALL have sinned, meaning we all have badness.
Are you with me so far?
Now here’s where this sin becomes that roadblock.
Because we all have sin, as we’ve just read, God, who is perfect (or sinLESS), cannot be in our presence.
And also due to sin, we have no desire to even BE in God’s presence.
Bit of a monkey wrench when you consider that the wonderful Heaven we previously described is where God is.
So, if He can’t be around us, because of sin, and we don’t want to be around Him, how do we get that everlasting Christmas?
Well, the only way to rectify this situation is by “fixing” our badness.
Ezekiel 36:26 says: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
This verse is a promise.
See, God knew that sin was going to cause separation between us and Him. But He also had a way that it could be fixed.
He promises in this verse to give us a new heart and a new spirit.
This is our solution.
If our sin, or our current heart state, results in distance between us and God, then we need a new one.
We need a heart that desires to be with God, and we need a way for God to be able to be with us.
So, how do we get this new heart?
How do we get our everlasting Christmas?
Well, God promises to give us this new heart, but we have some responsibility here as well.
We have to ask for it.
And I don’t mean an offhanded “hey God I’m really into this whole Heaven thing so a new heart would be great right about now.”
No, I mean that we need to humbly and repentantly acknowledge that due to our sin we do not desire to be with God. And we need to humbly ask that He take our current sin filled heart and give us one that longs for Him.
A heart that desires nothing more than an eternal relationship with Him, resulting in someday getting to spend everlasting and everlasting celebrating that “Christmas feeling,” in Heaven, with God, forever.
And here is some good news:
If we ask, He will do it.
He will give us a heart that desires Him, He will forgive and forget all our past and future sins, and He will continue to grow us closer and closer to Himself.
Now, He gives us this new heart through His son, Jesus.
The very same Jesus whom we celebrate being born at Christmastime.
See this sin, this “badness,” that we all have comes with a consequence.
Without a new heart we would be forever separated from God.
No everlasting Christmas.
And unfortunately for us, being weighted with sin, we can never, on our own, make up enough “goodness” to bridge that separation.
So, God sent Jesus, His perfect, also sinless, son to be that absolutely good enough “goodness” for us.
God sent Jesus to bear our sin for us, allowing Him to give us that new heart. Which in turn, allows us to close the gap between us and God.
God sent Jesus down from that wonderful place called Heaven, away from all that perfect peace and love, into our imperfect world.
God sent Jesus to stand in our place, taking the punishment for our sin.
See, that consequence of sin we talked about? The separation between us and God?
Another way to say that would be “death.”
The Bible tells us that the punishment for our sin is death, according to Romans 6:23.
And without a fulfillment of that punishment, there is no way for us to receive a new heart.
But if WE fulfill that punishment, we have no opportunity for a new heart.
So Jesus, a perfect sacrifice in our place, came down from Heaven to face death on a cross.
And in doing so, gave us freedom from death. Freedom from the separation between us and God. Freedom from the grip of sin.
A way to be open and able to receive a new heart.
A way to desire to be in God’s presence for all eternity.
A way for God to allow us into His perfect presence.
A way to receive an everlasting Christmas.
Now if you’re sitting here right now thinking that you simply cannot wait that long to celebrate Christmas forever, I have some more good news for you.
We get a taste of this everlasting Christmas now.
No, it’s not nearly as amazing as what it will be in Heaven, but those who cling to God and receive that new heart get to experience some of that peace and love and happiness in the here and now.
We get the peace of knowing that God is in control and holding us in His hands no matter what.
We get to experience love like we’ve never experienced on a human level.
And we can be happy.
And this happy feeling isn’t one that will go away in a few months.
This is true and complete happiness. All encompassing, never failing, I have a relationship with the creator of the world, happiness.
That will only grow brighter and brighter until it’s finally manifested one day in our everlasting Heavenly Christmas.
A “Christmas” that we will never have to put away.
And let me tell you, as the de-decoration specialist, my husband is especially thankful for that part!
But in all seriousness, this is an amazing gift we are being offered.
Being able to close the sin-caused separation between us and God due to a new sinLESS heart, through the great sacrifice of Jesus.
Being welcomed into the presence of God with open arms.
Being forgiven from, and relieved of, the burden of our sin.
Being offered an everlasting Christmas.
No this everlasting Christmas doesn’t come with Christmas plates or twinkle lights.
It doesn’t come with neatly wrapped gifts under a fresh smelling tree.
And it doesn’t come with a different pair of Christmas earrings for every day of the year.
But what it does come with is so. much. better.
Peace in the hands of God. Forgiveness of our sins. Everlasting, eternal life.
An everlasting Christmas.