- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

The following are excerpts of a sermon given Saturday by the Rev. Franklin David at the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring.

At the beginning of the week, we were counting down the days towards a holly, jolly Christmas with chestnuts roasting on an open fire, walking in a winter wonderland, for it is the most wonderful time of the year.

But after Christmas, you wonder why Santa gets all the rest while you did all the work.

After Christmas, the message in your mailbox changes from “Have a happy holiday” to “Pay this amount” on your bills.

After Christmas, the delicious dinner that everyone enjoyed is now the leftovers that everyone is complaining about.

After Christmas, you don’t get any food to eat because your wife is talking about getting back on a diet of cabbage soup.

After Christmas comes the tremendous task of cleaning up and disposing trash — from untangling all those decorations to pulling down the Christmas tree.

Yes, it is after Christmas but let us linger a little longer with Mary, Joseph and the little baby. For what happened in the lives of some of them who witnessed the first Christmas is a stark reminder of what Christmas means. May what happened in the lives of some of them who witnessed the first Christmas be translated into our own lives so that it may transform us as it did them over 2,000 years ago.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)

Great and glorious was that first Christmas, but they still had to return. They came obeying the heavenly messenger and returned back to their life of service. Back to their work, back to their place of duty.

But there was a difference. They returned, but they returned with music in their heart, glorifying God, praises on their lips and meditation on their minds.

We, too, may get heavenly light at Christmas, but we must be willing and obedient to carry the torch of service with our hands on this earth.

Even the common, ordinary opportunities that God brings our way must be filled with praise and glory.

The ultimate test of our Christian life is in the character and quality of our action, not in moments of deep spiritual emotions, but in the succeeding hours after it has passed away. In our daily duties, as we move about in our offices, neighborhoods, in the little things we do, does our Christian life shine forth as one that praises God, glorifies God? Have we made a determination to love him more dearly, follow him more nearly, glorify him daily, praise him continually?

The grace to return without merely going back to the rut of the routine is the crux of Christmas.

The shepherds would have certainly enjoyed sitting by baby Jesus and singing lullabies to him, but they had to return.

Yes, you and I have to return back to the daily duties that are demanded of us in this world where work has to be done, mortgages have to be paid, bills have to be cleared, and for us the church has to be built. But our return will be determined by the manner in which we have met the Messiah this Christmas.

After Christmas, the echoes of carols may fade away, the festivities of Christmas may die down, but may our lives be transformed to like that of those humble shepherds that we may return to a life of service, a life of praising and glorifying God.

There must be an after-Christmas effect in our life for the better. If not, we have celebrated in vain.

Just as in the circumstances of [Christs] birth, there was place for humble shepherds and wise men. So also in His church today, there is place for both the rich and the poor, learned and the unlearned, for the high and the low, bound and free.

It is exciting to celebrate Christmas even with all the so-called stress of shopping. But may God help us to return like the shepherds with music in our hearts glorifying God. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the great I Am, who was, who is, who is to come. For at the name of Jesus, everyone should bow. There is no other name under heaven whereby you may be saved. Salvation is in Christ and Christ alone. He died for me personally. No one who truly comes to Jesus can ever return back the same way.

May the after-Christmas effect catch us who live looking forward for His coming.

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