Anne Graham Lotz: Catching the Christmas Spirit

How do you and I catch the Christmas spirit if we’re not in the mood for Christmas?

Should we go shopping? Start decorating? Plan a party? Take gifts to the underprivileged? Pray for snow?

What happens when you just can’t psych yourself up to feel “Christmasey” … when your spouse is an alcoholic, your parent is dying or your baby is hospitalized? How do you get in the Christmas mood when finances prevent shopping or decorating? When no one invites you to a party, or you were just laid off from your job? When you are scheduled for chemotherapy on Christmas Day, or worse, you are all alone?

The answer to catching the Christmas spirit is so simple we may miss it. We don’t catch the Christmas spirit by shopping or decorating or partying or caroling or baking. We catch the Christmas spirit by sharing Christ!  

Read Luke 2:8-20

I.  HEAR AND KNOW THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

What does Christmas mean to you?

A.  Heaven Is Opened

  • Describe the circumstances that surrounded the original “closing” off of God’s presence in Heaven to the world of humanity, in Genesis 3:23-24.
  • Describe the people to whom it was first told that Heaven was opened, in Luke 2:8-9. Where were they and what were they doing? What does this mean to you?
  • To whom has Heaven been opened, according to verse 10? See Revelation 21:25-27; 22:17.
  • Relate this to Genesis 28:10-12 with John 1:47-51, and to John 14:6. Who is the “ladder” that spans the gulf between Heaven and Earth, between God and man?  

B.  Heaven Is Offered

  • Read verse 11. When Heaven was opened, who was revealed?
  • What does His Name, Jesus, mean according to Matthew 1:21?   
  • Look up the definitions for Lord and Christ in your dictionary and write them out as they apply to Jesus.
  • What was the “Good News” of His coming, as related to Heaven being closed since the beginning of human history?
  • What two things did the Good News of His coming bring, in  verse 10.
  • What was the purpose of this first Christmas morning? See verses 13-14.
  • Write out in your own words what Christmas means, according to Luke 2.

II.  COME AND MEET THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS

What is the miracle of Christmas?

A.  Compiled by an Awareness of Emptiness

  • Describe the dramatic visual, physical and emotional contrast between verses 13-14 and verse 15.
  • Have you ever had a similar feeling of letdown or extreme loneliness around Christmas? How have you responded to that feeling?

B.  Compelled by an Attitude of Expectancy

  • How did the shepherds respond to the Good News? Describe the time and effort they put into their response, in verse 16.
  • Why did the shepherds drop everything and hurry off to find the Baby?
  • How was the promise of verse 12 fulfilled in verse 16? How does this also confirm Jeremiah 29:13?  Proverbs 8:17?
  • Use your imagination to write out a description of verse 16, including the search, the scene and the stunning privilege of staring into the face of God.
  • What time and effort will you make to find Jesus in the midst of your Christmas celebration? What will you have to drop in order to find Him for yourself?  
  • What will you do to help someone else find Him this Christmas?

III.  GO AND TELL THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS

What is the message of Christmas?

See John 3:16-17.

A.  Personally

  • What phrase in verse 17 tells you this encounter with Jesus was a personal one? 
  • Following their encounter with the Baby, what did the shepherds do in verses 17-18.
  • How does their personal encounter with the Baby relate to 1 John 1:1-3? John 1:1-2, 14? Acts 4:20?
  • What difference does it make if your witness is based on secondhand hearsay or a personal, firsthand experience?

B.  Patiently

  • Of all those who were “amazed” at the shepherds’ testimony in verse 18, how many went to see the Baby for themselves?
  • Do you think the lack of response indicates something was wrong with the shepherds’ witness?  
  • How many people do you know who celebrate Christmas without “seeing” the Baby for themselves?  
  • How is this also addressed in Acts 28:23-31? 2 Timothy 4:2-5? Hebrews 6:12; 10:36?
  • If you have shared the Christ of Christmas but had no positive response, how are you encouraged by Acts 28:23-31? 2 Timothy 4:16-17? Hebrews 12:1-3? Galatians 6:9?

C.  With Praise

  • How were the shepherds’ practical circumstances the same after they had seen the Baby as before? How were their circumstances in other ways vastly different?
  • What evidence is there in verse 20 that the shepherds had caught the Christmas spirit?
  • Will verse 20 be a description of your attitude on Dec. 26? If not, why?
  • What phrase in verse 20 describes the total confidence the shepherds had in what they had seen and heard, regardless of the response of others?
  • Is there any part of the Christmas story that you doubt? If so, what is it, and why?
  • What can you do now to resolve that doubt, so that you can tell others the Good News of Christmas with confident joy?

Once you hear and know the true meaning of Christmas … once you come and see Jesus for yourself … then catch the Christmas spirit by going into the stores, schools, businesses, offices, neighborhoods and churches, telling everyone that, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11), a Savior who has opened and offered Heaven to anyone and everyone who will believe and receive Him.  ©2019 Anne Graham Lotz

 

Adapted from an article originally published in December 2005. 

Scripture quotation taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers and online.

Photo: Todd Sumlin/2012 BGEA