How to spend an Ordinary Christmas Day with Jesus
Imagine what it would be like to spend an ordinary 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.’” God with us. Think about that. And one of the last things Jesus promised his friends was this “I will be with you always.”
“I - will - be - with - you - always. Always. God with us - always.
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 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?
The correct answer is: At dusk. 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 when? At sundown.
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
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. I have checked - there is nothing worth watching on TV when you get home tonight. Go to bed instead. 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.” (Eph 4:26-27).
When you get home tonight resolve any outstanding family issues. 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 before your head hits the pillow and you will sleep peacefully, wake refreshed and celebrate 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. 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. It might influence what you say to others. It might influence what TV programmes you watch. But would that be a bad thing?
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 have who live alone. What can you do to make their Christmas more meaningful?
And if you live alone, join us for our 10:30am all age service. 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 lot like what sports teams do. When athletes 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.
In the same way, take time toward the end of Christmas Day, perhaps in solitude, to review 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 steps to an ordinary Christmas Day with Jesus. (summarise)
The good news is that you can spend Christmas Day with Jesus. Remember you have begun to, since theologically, Christmas Day began at dusk. He is here with us now. If you ask him, he will journey home with you tonight. He will be there when you fall asleep. 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 mundane into the extraordinary. I invite you to spend an extraordinary Christmas Day with Jesus, and every day - on into eternity.
With grateful thanks to John Ortberg and the ‘Ordinary Day with Jesus’ training resources for the inspiration behind this talk.