Speaker: Tim Bollinger
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
The parties, the decorations, the gifts, the music, the food…the travel, the family fights, the credit card bills. Christmas can be a double-edged sword. Get away from the noise and experience the amazing tranquility of a silent night and the love of an incredible God that brings peace to our hearts.
From the series Sounds of Christmas
|Christmas Reading Plan
|Christmas Dig Deeper Questions
Full Sermon Transcript
Thank you. Bing and Ban. Merry Christmas. Good to see all of you this afternoon at Shepherd’s Gate. We’re so glad that you’re here with us. My names Tim. I get the privilege of being the lead pastor here, and we are just so excited all that we believe that God has in store for you and your family today. We’ve been in this series here at Shepherd’s Gate, the month of December, called The Sound of Christmas. And we’ve been going through different Christmas carols that we sing during this season, and we’ve been asking ourselves these kind of questions, Why do we sing these songs? And do we even know some of the words that we’re singing when we sing the songs? Like you ever notice that? Sometimes we sing things and then you go like, Do I even know what that means? Or what does that phrase mean? Because they’re not normal, typical things that we say on a usual basis.
And so we’ve been having a lot of fun this month doing that, and we’ve been going through these songs. And then tonight what we thought we would do was end on Silent Night. And the reason that we picked Silent Night Tonight is because I’ve been here at Shepherd’s Gate. This is my 20th Christmas here at Shepherd’s Gate. And every single but here’s the weird thing. We have always finished our worship services on Christmas Eve was silent night and I started asking people. I started asking the staff and people that go here. I’m like, Why do we always end with Silent Night? Nobody actually knew the answer to that. Aren’t you just curious why we always end with Silent Night? Like who wrote Silent Night? Where did that song come from? And we’re going to get into that in a moment. But I know there’s some kids with those kids. Could you go ahead and wave at me right here to see, you know, parents?
We were a very family-friendly church. So if they get a little squirrely if they’re talking, it’s okay. It’s not going to bother us. We’re just so glad that we’re in They’re in the room with us and they’re worshiping with us. In fact, kids, isn’t this the greatest service of the year? I mean, because this is the one time that your parents will trust you with an open flame for a good two and a half minutes in a room full of people. So as a kid, this was always my favorite service because really it all comes down to being trusted to hold that candle. Right, Kids? And just, you know, I’ll need your help in a few minutes in the service. But let’s start with Silent Night. Let’s figure out let’s let’s learn a little bit about where this came from. It was actually written in 1816 by a guy named Joseph Moore, and he was an Austrian Roman Catholic priest. And he actually has a really incredible background and story if you want to go and even research more about it later.
But he actually wrote the lyrics to Silent Night as a poem, and he was preparing for a midnight mass that he had to obviously speak at and his organ ended up getting damaged. And so he was kind of trying to figure out, okay, what am I going to do? So you’ve got to have music. You can’t have a Christmas Eve service without music. And so he walks two miles to his friend’s house. Franz Gruber So Joseph is on the left, Franz is on the right in the picture above me. And this guy knew how to put things to music. And so literally 2 hours before the Christmas Eve service, this guy took his words and took the melody and combined them together. And the first time that Silent Night was sung was on Christmas Eve night or 1818, which was 205 years ago. And then incredible. And now we sing this thing today. I mean, we sing this with just all passion and love for that song.
And what I was thinking about this this is what often happens when you dig into this stuff. I was thinking like this idea of a silent night. Well, first of all, was it actually a silent night? But second of all is they personalize it for myself. When was the last time that I actually sat in a moment of silence? And that’s what I want to ask you. When was the last time that you actually literally had a moment of silence to yourself and some of you with little kids, you’re saying, I don’t ever get a moment of silence, do you? Right. And you’re thinking because of the stress of Christmas and December and the holiday and all the things that you have to get prepared for, you’re like, Well, that’s why I come to the Christmas Eve service. I want the two-and-a-half-minute Silent night candle light. And that’s my quiet time. And then I’m good. Here’s what’s so interesting.
The average American actually only gets 43 minutes of silence a day. Did you know that some of you were saying 43 minutes of silence? I’ll take 43 seconds of silence. I will give you one guess where they say most men spend their 43 minutes of silence a day. Or maybe here’s another way to go at it or to ask it. What in your life has brought you to silence? And in that moment, was it a positive experience or was it a negative experience? Think about it this way When a war comes to an end and we hear that the troops are returning home and there’s not going to be any more fighting or conflict kind of brings us to silence. Or if you think about where you were at when 911 broke out, those of us that were alive during a time, you know exactly where you were at, you know what room you were in, you know, the people that you were surrounded by.
How about this? How many of you were around when we landed on the moon? And back then, remember, was like a 13 inch television screen? Nobody had a bigger than a 13-inch television screen. And we’re so excited to land on the moon. But do you also remember where you were when this space challenger We’re in the spaceship Challenger blew up and we were all trying to figure out what was going on? How about this? Have you ever had it where you find out and you hear the news that a really close friend of yours has been cured of cancer? Or how about it when you hear the news that one of your closest friends or family members is diagnosed with cancer, we get so excited when we hear of the birth of a child, right? We just get so excited when the same moment we’re brought to silence when we’re holding the hand of a loved one is God gently ushers them into his presence for all eternity.
Kids, I told you I needed your help. Correct? You guys still with me? Kids, Can you guys tell me who this character is right here? Can you tell me who this is? What’s his name? so good. This is the greatest Christmas movie that has ever been produced. This is the first original Home alone. I want you to think about Kevin. Kids and adults with me this evening. Think about this. Kevin woke up in a home of silence. This is every introvert’s dream, is it not? I mean, he went from chaos the night before with all of his family members to waking up in a house completely alone. And he threw a party. He was so glad that he was by himself. And isn’t it interesting that life circumstances, things outside of his control, that life began to throw him some obstacle and he had to figure out what he was going to do and how he was going to overcome these life’s obstacles.
And so he created this incredible plan. But before he actually executed that plan, what did he do? He went to church and he walked into that church. This is my favorite scene of the movie. And he sat down in a pew as the choir was singing. And he had a moment of silence. And then what did he do? He went back to his house and he defended that house with everything that he had, didn’t he? But what about the biblical account? We rewind back to Scripture. Maybe you don’t go to church often. Maybe you don’t have a practice of reading your Bible. One of the things that we do here at Shepherds Gate is we love to just open the Bible and let the Bible speak. See, again, there’s so much pressure during this time of the season, so much pressure to to put on the perfect party or to have the perfect dinner or to have the perfect family, or to send out the perfect Christmas card where everybody’s got their matching outfits and you got this, you know, all that stuff that just culminates.
And oftentimes it’s even the perfect Christmas service. Like, we want you to have the perfect Christmas experience. And so sometimes we think that we got to like, create something outside of what the Bible just says. And there’s so much beauty in just reading Scripture, so much beauty and just what God has actually given us as he tells us the account of how his son came into the world. See, two gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, are the ones that actually give us the details of what happened on that first Christmas. Luke put it this way. In the first chapter, he said, God sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledge to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you are highly favored. The Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel says to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You’re going to conceive and give birth to a son. And you were to call him Jesus. How will this be? Mary asked. Since I am a virgin, the angel answers her, The Holy Spirit is going to come on you. The power of the most high will overshadow you, and the Holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Somehow, with this announcement, Mary is able to say, Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me, according to your word. And the angel departed her. Imagine the moments of silence that Mary had after this interaction with an angel. How she’s got to go now and tell her fiance, Say, Joseph, how is she going to explain this to her family? Is anyone actually going to believe that she’s telling the truth because nobody else was there?
It was just her in the angel. Well, if you jump over to Matthew’s account, this is how he captured it for us. He said, this is how the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, came about. His mother, Mary, was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit because Joseph, her husband, was a Jewish man and didn’t want to exposure to public disgrace. He had in mind to divorce her. How quietly now, up to this point, how many sleepless nights did Joseph endure? How many silent walks did he go on it? Was it days? Was it weeks? Was it a few months? We don’t know. And sometimes we don’t always understand. Like, why wouldn’t God just have the angel appear to Mary and Joseph at the same time?
Why not just make it easy and let him know and he’s on the same page and they’re all in agreement? Why is it that there’s a delay between the information that they receive and why does Mary get to have an angel actually visit her? When it comes to Joseph, he has to have the angel in a dream. This is what it says. After he considered this an angel, a lord appeared to him in dreams that Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. What is conceived by her is actually from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son. And you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. And isn’t it interesting that when you woke up he was obedient? He did, as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and he took Mary home as his wife.
They were willing to go through whatever that meant in their time and their culture, in their context. And up to this point they were just assuming that they were just going to have to endure the culture and the pressure that they would have faced and the rumors that would have been swirling that they were willing to go through this process because they believe the angel they believe the angel was from God. Here’s the crazy part. They didn’t actually know what was next. The angel in the dream and the angel talking to Mary didn’t actually tell them all. Get by the way, there’s going to be more that you’re going to have to go through. Life is going to get turned upside down over and over again for you. You’re going to have more obstacles to face.
In fact, you go back to Luke, you find out that Caesar Augustus decides he’s going to issue a decree that everyone in the whole Roman world should be registered and that each person should have to go back to their own hometown. And because Joseph was of the lineage of David, they were going to have to travel all the way back to Bethlehem. Doesn’t seem very fair. Does it seem like that’s what you have to go through if you’ve just been selected by Almighty God to be the ones to bring the Savior of the world to the world? And yet that’s exactly what God had them go through. But here’s the part that we love. The part that we sing about is while they were there, the time came for her to give birth, and she gives birth to her firstborn son. She wraps him in swaddling cloths. She lays them in a manger, that feeding trough because there was no place for them in the end.
Isn’t it interesting that they had to travel there in Bethlehem at that time, what had just been completely fall? There would have been people in every direction and all of David’s family would have been surrounding them at this time. I mean, there’s no way that Bethlehem would have been considered silent, but yet, as we sing these words, we wondered, did they have that moment? Did Mary and Joseph at least just have maybe 43 seconds to themselves as we sing these precious words silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright Round yon virgin mother and child. And here’s what’s so important Holy infant. This was like no other child that’s ever been born Holy infant So tender and mild. Now, here’s what I know. Those of you that God has blessed with children as He is blessed, my wife, Lisa and I, with children, you never, ever, ever forget when your first child is born.
Do you that moment that you hold in eternal being in your hands for the very first time And I’ll tell you this, if you’re a second or third or fourth or fifth born, you’re just going to have to get over it, right? It’s just a reality of life. It’s the same thing that happens with grandparents, whether we like it or not. It’s just what happens us. You know, I’m a second child, my wife’s the second child, and we get a that’s why there’s more pictures of the firstborn. That’s why there’s always more of everything with the first born. It’s just a fact of life, folks. But there is something that happens, and I still remember. I can go back to that moment when my wife gave birth to our first child. Now two, She decided that she wanted to go all natural on the first kid. I called it the Mary and Joseph approach.
So no medication, none of that stuff. And it was a very tedious it was a long process until finally they handed this little child into my hands. And this was the cool part is that we decided we weren’t going to find out the sex of the baby and we weren’t going to tell anybody the names that we had picked because we just love torturing people. And all of our family was actually for hours and hours and hours was waiting down the hall in the waiting room. And I can tell you this, that when he was born, we were so overcome with emotion as the doctors and nurses left the room that we had that silent moment with just him. And it was about 30 minutes into that. And my wife tapped me on the shoulder and said We should probably tell them that the baby’s been born and we should probably tell them it’s a boy and that his name is Henry. And so was so incredible to be able to go down the hallway and to bring everybody into the room to share in that celebration.
But what I wasn’t expecting was this is when people come into a room, there’s only two things that they really care about. What’s the first one? The baby. They’re all fighting because they want to hold the baby. What’s the second thing, Mom? And the more people that came in the room, the more I realized I was just getting pushed back to the corner. You realize nobody asked me how I was doing. Nobody asked me if I was hungry. I mean, do you know the kind of back pain that you get when you are hunched over like this for hours on end? And in a moment of time, I realized that I was the priority. I’ll think of this. Would Jesus all that Mary and Joseph went through. They’re not in their hometown. They’re not even in the upper parts of the house. They would have been staying and they would have been shoved down.
Now they’re in the lower parts, which is where they would have been, and the animals would have came in to keep them safe and warm at night. And of course, as Sheila lays him in this manger and yet God said, I’m going to add some more people to the mix for you, Mary and Joseph. I just think we need to have some more people be a part of this incredible miracle. And so what does he do? He sends an angel to some shepherds that are living out in a field. They’re minding their own business, and all of a sudden there’s this angel appears, and he says to the shepherds, Fear, not for behold. I bring you good news of great joy. That’s going to be for everyone. All people, for unto you was born on this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord. So much so that suddenly, not just one angel, but now there’s hundreds of angels in the sky.
They’re all singing at the top of their lungs. Glory to God in the highest in on earth. Peace on whom is favor rest Good We say that the skies of Bethlehem were anything but silent at this point. Not only saw the angels, actually the one that gives them instructions and says, Hey, go into Bethlehem and here’s how you’re going to be able to find Baby Jesus. I mean, can you imagine, Mary, at this point, Hey, the more the merrier. Just keep bringing people in. It’s fine. And where’s Joseph? Joseph Just getting kind of pushed over to the side. Who knows? But this is why we sing these words. Shepherds quake At the same time we say the Heavenly Host. They sing hallelujah.
And it’s why we sing the Christmas songs that we do because we join in, in that celebration and we join in on that declaration because we believe that this is how God brought His son into the world. But there’s parts of this song that are kind of interesting, and maybe this is the part maybe we haven’t fully thought about when we say these words and we sing these words Sleep in heavenly peace, and then we say it again, Sleep in heavenly peace, What does that mean? What is heavenly peace? Want you to think about this God Almighty, the creator of the universe sends his son his one and only son who is fully God and fully man. The reason that Jesus is able to sleep in heavenly peace is because He knows who God is and He knows who He is. And together in Union in one three Gods, and what He knows what his purpose and his mission is for.
It is incredible As you kind of dig into Scripture and you study scripture, you realize that there’s really not a ton that’s actually written about Jesus’s birth. There’s a few verses, as I said in Matthew, a few verses in Luke. But really the focus of Scripture is the life and the Ministry of Jesus. In fact, over and over again, people had ideas of what they thought Jesus was going to do when he began his ministry, that Jesus was going to overthrow the government of his time. And each and every time people were always focused on the things of the world. They were always focused on the things that they could see around them. They lost sight of the eternal perspective that only God gives us. And so Jesus, we go town to town, village to village. He would preach and he would teach and he would kill people.
He would say things like this I have told you these things so that in me, in me, you could have peace. And this is what he would say about the world. The world has trouble, but you can take heart because I have overcome the world. My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is an eternal world. In fact, in the very next chapter of John, John, Chapter 17, Jesus gives us incredible prayer. He looks toward heaven and He says these words, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son. That your son may glorify you, for you granted him authority over all people, that he may give eternal life to all people you have given him. How is it that Jesus is going to be glorified? It’s not his birth. He’s going to be glorified when he stretches out his arms on a cross, when the sins of the entire world, including your sins and my sins, are actually placed on his physical body as he pays the penalty that we can’t pay for ourself.
See, the whole reason Jesus came into the world was for one reason and one reason only to ultimately make it to that cross so that he could pave the way. He could restore the relationships has been lost between God and us. And so that three days later, he could rise from the dead and he could walk out of it to him and make that tomb empty and defeat sin. And death and the devil once and for all. And that’s why it says because the text says, Now this is eternal life, this is it. Keep your eyes fixed on eternity that they know you. The one true God, the Creator, God, and they know Jesus Christ whom you have seen like credible Jesus goes back, you rewinds back to the beginning. by the way, the reason that I came, the reason that I was born, the reason you celebrate Christmas, it’s because this was my ultimate mission. So here’s what I have for you folks. God actually shouts. He shouts, I love you to all people through the birth of his son, Jesus.
Here’s the incredible part that includes each and every single one of you. And the only reason that Jesus hasn’t come back to this earth, because we’re not going to fix it. If you didn’t know that humanity’s had plenty of time, thousands and thousands and thousands of years to fix it, we’re never going to get it right. The only reason he hasn’t come back to this Earth is because he’s still trying more and more people to himself. He still wants more and more people to come to a saving knowledge of him and for them to put their faith and their hope and trust in him. I want you to think about these words. Think of the words that you sing when you say Silent night, Holy night. Think of how that silences your soul. Is he the Son of God?
Is he actually when you say that, do you believe He is the son of God loves pure light? That radiant beams come from his holy faith? It’s with the dawn. Is that as that stone was rolled away from the tomb? That was the redeeming grace. And is he Jesus Lord, all the way back to his birth? Here’s what we want for you this Christmas, because every one of you will have a moment of silence you see every night, right before we close our eyes as our head lays on our pillows, we want you to be able to sleep in peace. Not earthly peace, but a heavenly peace. Because you know who God is, that He created you, that He loves you, and that He sent his one and only son to this earth for you. And he’s calling you to himself. And he’s reminding you once again, I love you. I’ve never stopped pursuing you. I want to do something incredible in your heart and your life.
This afternoon, as the God we serve. That’s the God that we worship. That’s the God that we sing about. That is the relationship that God wants for each and every one of us. And that is exactly what we pass on to the next generation. Hey, man. Hey, man. Will you blow your head and close your eyes with me? This afternoon? Heavenly Father, we do. Thank you for your amazing grace and mercy in our lives. God, it’s you that sustains this world. And even though we don’t always understand the things that happen in our lives. God, there’s so many questions by why things happen. And the reality is we may never have the answers to those questions this side of eternity. We got, as we look back at what it is that you did for us, the way in which you protected your son, the way you worked through Mary and Joseph, God, that ultimately you would put your one and only son on a cross for us.
And God, we pause and we reflect and we remember and we say, Thank you. If you’re here this afternoon, and maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve been in church, maybe you’ve never been in church before. You realize God is speaking to you this morning or this afternoon that God is drawing Him self to you and wanting you to be in relationship with Him. Can we, Father, we thank you that you are at work, that it is you that brings us to faith. It is you that calls us by name. It is you, God and only you that can wipe away all of our sins and give us that faith and that hope and that trust and that peace in you. So, God, we love you. We thank you. Send your sons most holy and precious name. We pray. Amen.