New Rumley United Methodist Church
CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
WAYS TO SERVE
The Nightmare Before Christmas Pastor Hester
The Nightmare before Christmas! Before Thanksgiving? But
my friends is the irony of it all.
I have already heard, “I am finished buying gifts!” “I don’t know how we will afford Christmas this year.” “I will never get everything done!” Who among us has already started Christmas preparations?
And it is not yet Thanksgiving.
So we still have weeks to wait for Christmas Day. And for many, those weeks will be a nightmare. Too much to do, not enough time, exhaustion, frayed nerves.
Imagine waiting, not for weeks, but for thousands of years for Christmas. Living in uncertainty and chaos.
Imagine you were told that someday one who could save you from the chaos and pain of this world was coming. And you were waiting. Adam and Eve heard the first hint of a coming Savior, one who would destroy evil. God told the serpent, Satan, that one would come and crush his head. Already, in the beginning of time, God revealed His plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through Jesus Christ His Son.
All throughout the Old Testament God sent men and women to tell the world to turn to God and prepare for the Coming of the Messiah for His salvation and for the Day of Judgment.
Centuries passed with the same message from God:
"Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:7b)
Most failed to heed the prophets words from God. But there were those few that remained faithful. Thank God there are always the few!
Through the generations the remnant of Jews, the faithful few, passed down their true faith to the next generations. The remnant of Jacob’s family of 70 assured the survival of a nation. The remnant that came back from the exile to Babylon. The remnant of 7000 in the time of Elijah. All others killed because of their unfaithfulness. The few struggling to pass on the promise of God. And then the time finally come.
Would it be a surprise to you that it was a nightmare before that first Christmas?
The events as told by Luke relating to the Romans were recorded in world history. A decree was issued for a census. This census would determine who would serve in the military and how much taxes would be paid. Jews didn’t have to serve in the military but they did have to pay taxes-very high taxes. The Romans ruled over the Jews and so the government forced Joseph to make a long trip with his pregnant fiancé, Mary, which would result in Joseph paying his taxes.
When they arrived the streets and motels were full. We know the baby was laid in a manger which would have been in a stable. A stable that was nothing like the peaceful nativity scenes we display, but which was most likely a dark and dirty cave filled with stinky animals, no show animals back then. They either gave milk or eggs, were eaten, or slaughtered for a sacrifice.
Certainly it was a nightmare for Mary and Joseph. No hospital, no clean bed, no family. This was their first Christmas. The day that the long awaited Messiah was born. The day that we remember and celebrate as Christmas.
No cookies, no parties, no gifts except one-the gift that God gave the world- His Son who would be named Jesus and become the Christ, the Savior of the world.
In that nightmare that so many of us experience-the busyness that has already begun-how often do we stop to give thanks for this gift-the gift of Jesus?
Thanksgiving is approaching. As Americans, we have an abundance to be thankful for in our lives,
Statistically, 3,000 Calories are consumed by the average person at Thanksgiving dinner. 45 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving. 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten at Thanksgiving, 40 million green bean casseroles are made. And 72 million of cans of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce purchased each year.
But whatever you have this year remember the words of
"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness."
So if you find yourself not as merry as you ought to be, or living the nightmare before Christmas, then remember the hymn
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Let go of some of those things you “always” do-you have to do-you are expected to do-and take joy in giving thanks on Thanksgiving.
Take a break from preparing for what Christmas has become and after Thanksgiving begin preparing for what it was meant to be. The remembrance of the birth of our Savior Jesus and the preparation for His return, the Second coming of Christ.
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