This is the text and PowerPoint I used this morning for an all-age Christmas talk:
Reading this week about a little boy who had a bad experience in his school, let me read this to you:
Our teacher asked what my favourite animal was, and I said fried chicken, she said I wasn’t funny, but she couldn’t have been right because everyone else laughed. My parens told me always to tell the truth, I did, fried chicken is my favourite animal. I told my dad what happened and he said my teacher probably a member of the RSPCA, he said they love animals very much. I love animals very much, especially pork and beef. Anyway my teacher sent me to the head teacher’s office, and I told him what happened, and he laughed too, and told me not to do it again.
The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favourite live animal was, I told her it was chicken, she asked why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken! She sent me back to the head teachers office, he laughed and told me not to do it again. I don’t understand my parents taught me to be honest.
Today my teacher asked us which famous person we admired the most, I told her Colonel Sanders, guess where I am right now!
Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. Foremost about the things I believe about Christmas might get me into trouble, but here it is anyway. I believe that Christmas changed everything. It changed everything. It didn’t just give us Downtown Abbey Christmas specials – which is going to be really exciting. It didn’t just give you presents, sprouts or more food, or dodgy Christmas songs, it changed everything because God came into earth. Let me try and explain what I mean.
It was Christmas Eve 1968, 1 billion people it was estimated were watching the television that Christmas Eve. They saw something absolutely incredible happen that kind of made up for a rubbish year – it was the year that Martin Luther King was assassinated, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, America was in the middle of the Vietnam war, it wasn’t a great year. But in 1968, three men stood up and did something so incredible Time magazine made them the men of the year for 1968 – Frank Boreman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – you might not have heard of their names, but you might have heard of Apollo 8.
Apollo 8 left the earth’s atmosphere, and it orbited around the moon, 60 miles above the moon, and took live television shots of the moon. Everyone was wowed as they didn’t know what the moon was, was there a man on the moon, was it made of cheese, what did the dark side of the moon look like. They took pictures of the moon and beamed back these pictures of the moon and everyone watched. Time magazine said that these three men “saved” 1968.
When they started to speak, and after they had said to the live television cameras, “Hi mum, hi dad, hope it’s good in Texas”, or wherever they were, they started to read words that many, many people who watched it were familiar with and had heard before, but in this atmosphere, with those pictures they took on a whole different meaning. They read from the first few verses of the Bible and they said this:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was.
Significant today because hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years later the prophet Isaiah had said:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. For to us a child is born.
Significant to us because hundreds of years after that the apostle John shows up and he starts to write about Jesus, this baby in a manger, and he’s trying to explain this weird Christmas thing, and he says:
In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. In him was light and life, light for all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
What these people were saying was that way back then God’s presence was near, and one day God is going to come closer. He is going to be a child who is going to be the wonderful counsellor, the almighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace, a time when God will have come. Way back then God brought light to the world, now God is bringing light to your world, to your world and my world – now it is getting personal.
You listen to that and think I don’t know what that’s all about, I’d rather make it about Downtown Abbey or something else because that is all very up close and personal. Let me just explain in a few moments what that is all about, and what it means for the light to become personal for you. And you may say I haven’t got a lot of darkness in your life, it’s not like I’m living under Roman occupation or under a Babylonian exile, or all this old school stuff, but actually you know what it means to experience darkness. You know that your children are not addiction proof, and your finances are not recession proof, this country is not terror proof, and your life is not pain proof or death proof. You know what it means to experience darkness and to experience a lack of hope, and a lack of expectation and a lack of peace in your life.
The Scriptures say the one who comes, the baby in the manger, will bring light into your darkness. He’s the one who will guide you when you don’t know your way; when what you’ve been standing on for years has suddenly eroded and corroded and you don’t know where to step because the things you live, philosophy of life you live no longer seems to add up, it is busted and broken. He is going to be the wonderful counsellor who will bring truth.
He is the mighty god who not only brings truth into your life but brings power to accomplish the things he asks you to do. It is all well and good knowing a path but how do you walk it; it is all well and good knowing that he comes with healing but can I experience his healing. The baby comes, and he lives, and he starts to grow up, and he heals people – blind people see and deaf people hear, and the lame walk again and it screams God has come and he has put on flesh and lived amongst us and he can make a difference in your darkness.
He is the everlasting father. Do you know the scriptures say again and again and again that each one of us needs a perfect father, not restricted by geography, not restricted by schedule, not restricted by resources. We need a perfect father who will love us unconditionally, who will parent us perfectly and set us on the right path. The Christmas story says the one has come who is the everlasting father and who is the prince of peace.
Prince of Peace
Daniel has started asking me what I want for Christmas, and I give him a big list. They’re your kids and one day they might have enough money to pay for the things on the list – the beautiful home cinema system, the nice watch. But in my honest moments I think I just want everyone to get on. Do you ever think that? All I want for Christmas is for everyone to get on. My dysfunctional family, my friendships that don’t quite work, what is it about life that means we just don’t get on. People are trying to put one over on somebody else, and the rich who get richer and the poor who get poorer and I just want everyone to get on.
The Christmas story tells me not only is there a wonderful counsellor who has truth for your life, and a mighty God who has power for your healing; and not only is there a perfect father who loves you intimately and is never going to let you down, but there is a prince of peace who comes to restore the relationship between you and God, between you and people, between you and yourself. Light has come, not just for the world, but for your world.
So Darth Vader was fighting with Luke Skywalker, you may have seen it in the movie, “I know what you are getting for Christmas”, “how do you know what I am getting for Christmas”, “I have felt your presence!” That is my best Christmas joke!
Do you know what I pray for Christmas, I pray that you get loads of presents, and I pray that you would know His presence because I know that will change everything. Some of you have heard that before, but if you really ask Him this Christmas if he will come he will say yeah I have already come. I came a baby, I lived a man, I died on a cross and I rose again, and I am here today. I am the wonderful counsellor, and I am the mighty God, and I am the everlasting father, and I am the prince of peace. And this time it is getting personal.
Let’s pray. Father we love you, we love what you do, we love your presence, we love that you are not removed and remote, we love that you are interested, we love that you are powerful and that you want to make a difference. So just in these moments we ask Holy Spirit of God bring your presence into our lives and change everything. We ask this in the name of the baby, Amen.