Here is part of the transcript of a message I gave a few years ago, in a church in New England. I wanted to share this with you as close to exactly between Thanksgiving and Christmas as I could …
At the time, I had left the legal department (set for life) of a “large New England Electric Utility” in order to focus on my Biblical studies, and my degree. The job was 60 miles away … one way. Yes, I left the legal department, set for life, to clean toilets at McDonalds … Remember, “It’s not the job that brings honor to the man, but the man who brings honor to the job.” The reason I mention this is because it came up during the message … including the fact that, at that time, Carol was working in the registration department at the hospital … where, at that time, I was a regular visitor …
Good morning. Praise the Lord. And, if I may…Merry Christmas…The title of our presentation is “Christmas Thoughts of Thanksgiving.” I’d like to share with you a few items on my Christmas list. My Christmas list this year is different…It’s more of a Thanksgiving list…Not Thanksgiving…but Thanks…Giving. Instead of stuff that I want…it has stuff listed that I already have. Things I’ve already received; things that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful for how God has blessed me all year. It’s funny how we seem to be more reflective on holidays. How it is almost an obligation to think about how God has blessed us, once a certain holiday arrives. You know, maybe that’s why we keep having holidays…so we’ll keep on remembering…
Even though it’s been just one year since last Christmas, it seems I’ve gotten older by more than one year. I’ve been to the doctor and the hospital more times in the past year than in my whole life combined…Let’s see…I haven’t been to the hospital to have tests done…to have blood drawn…in…Let’s see…just over 26 hours…I’m thankful for doctors…for medicine…for hospitals…and, yes…I’m thankful, guys…for nurses…. +
Before I leave this subject, I should also add that I am thankful for the beautiful, friendly, and efficient staff that handles the registration at the hospital and at the lab….I am thankful that Jesus Christ is still in the…healing…business! This year, Jesus Himself, personally, has healed me of individual lumps that I had in my lymph nodes, one under each arm. This is the same type of illness that has wreaked death and havoc in my family…most recently, just this past year. Then, I had a lump under my chin that was huge …Here we go again with this lymph node thing, and lumps…Well, God reached down and healed that too…Let me say again, that I am thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ is still in the healing business!
Then, there have been incidents at work. My third day on the job, I found out that a box cutter will cut more than boxes. And, I discovered that when you cut the fleshy part of your palm that it bleeds really bad. I prayed that Jesus would stop the bleeding, and he did. Something else that Carol doesn’t know about, happened this past Thursday at work. We have an area called “the corral” where the trash dumpsters are completely enclosed by concrete and brick walls. These walls are eight feet high and 15 feet wide. A tractor-trailer backed into the corral, and knocked one of the walls completely down. Of course, the wall fell inward. I had just walked out of the corral, and, and if it had happened two minutes earlier, I wouldn’t be here today.
I’m thankful for God’s protective hand.
I’m also thankful for the other people that I’ve prayed for, that Jesus has healed.
Yeah, Christmas is ok, but it’s been a great year.
I changed jobs this year. I prayed for certain hours, and I prayed that my new job would be no more than 15 miles away. My new job was exactly the hours I prayed for, and from my driveway to work is exactly 15.0 miles. This Christmas, I have a lot to be thankful for…and it doesn’t revolve around the holiday. It revolves around what Jesus has done for me personally.
I work with a man that is both deaf and mute. I am thankful that I am able to see, to hear, and to talk. I have realized this year just how much I have taken for granted.
I am thankful for electricity. If this was 60 years ago and someone said, “I’m thankful for electricity,” the whole crowd would have stood up and cheered.
I’m thankful for running water. That same 60 years ago, “running water” meant that someone ran down to the well. And ran back with a bucket full.
I am thankful for hot water. I can remember when, growing up, we didn’t have hot, running water. I took a hot shower just this morning. I liked it so much that I may take another one next week.
I am thankful for automobiles. And, the fact that you can get in your car and travel from state to state…literally where ever you want to go, and not have to go through check-points as you enter into every different state. And, how about gasoline…even at the cost we pay for it today, some of us remember when gasoline-and a lot of other things-were rationed…you could only buy a certain amount…on certain days…if you had the right coupons.
I am thankful for microwave ovens, and telephones, and a hundred other things we take for granted every day.
Things like grocery stores. Department stores. And, how about mail delivery?
I’m grateful for the things that I already have…I’m grateful for the things that I came in with…
When I look back over the years, from my earliest childhood memories to just last year, Christmas is always a time that I remember. For those of your who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that there are special family times that will stand out just as much. It’s important, because these special family times are the times that will continue to stand out for the rest of your lives. I was raised “without a lot of stuff.” And, maybe I don’t have that many good memories about growing up. But, what good memories I do have, are memories of Christmas. I would hate to have those memories taken away. I find, that so many years later, I don’t remember so much what we didn’t have. I remember…yes, even cherish, what we did have.
I celebrate Christmas: To me, it is a holiday…it’s a day off from work…plus, in one week, I get another day off for New Year’s! And yes, I look forward to that all year. Christmas is, for some families, the only time they are all together in one place, except for funerals.
In today’s family lifestyles, how often do families get together to even enjoy a family meal together…at the same table? So, this “Christmas” is maybe the one time all year when families get together and just “be with each other.” It is the one time that they all look at each other and say, “Ya know, this is cool. I really do love my family. I really do love my home. This is really cool.” You know, I can’t help but think that Jesus thinks that’s pretty cool, too.
I find that what’s wrong with Christmas has more to do with what’s wrong with me-my attitude.
I believe that if “Christmas” was done away with, the church would still set aside one day to celebrate/recognize His birth. I believe that if it’s ok to celebrate the birthday of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s ok to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Without going back to last year’s Christmas presentation, it strikes me that it’s ok to celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on a day that they weren’t actually born.
I believe that the mountains, the oceans, the great works of God’s hands that surround us are beautiful. However, I believe that the greatest work that God does, the greatest miracle that He performs, is the change He makes in people’s lives. The greatest miracle that God performs is when He takes the rottenest of sinners, saves them, changes them, and makes them a saint. The greatest works of God surround us today. They are represented in every pew. And, none of this would have been possible had not God Himself come to earth as a man, born as a baby, and died as the Savior of the world. He is alive today, evidenced by the changed lives that surround us here today.
I take you back to a conversation that I had last week with a lady I work with. When she complained about not having any decorations for Christmas in the store, I stated, coldly, that “It would just be something that we would have to put up and then back take down”…As we discussed Christmas, and I was giving her the negatives, she said things like,
“It doesn’t matter what day we celebrate it on, as long as we celebrate it”… (That sounded so familiar)…
Me: Well, it’s just another day.
As she threatened to admonish me with her “Christmas Sermon,” she would not let me walk away until I told her I was just joking. As I walked away, I said:
Me: “The world has taken it over.”
Theresa: “The world has taken over a lot of things-that doesn’t mean it has to take us over.”
Me: “I’ll use that Sunday.”
Blessings to you, and to your family,