“Keeping Christmas All Year Round” (Colossians 3:12-17)
Sermon type: Topical-Textual
Proposition: The gift of Christmas is not merely to be celebrated once a year but is a gift meant to be used, each and every day, and in doing so, will change your life.
1. Memorable Christmas Presents
I. A Gift You Can Use Everyday
1. The background to today’s passage is Colossians 2:6 : “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” Today’s reading: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (v. 15).
2. Danger is being distracted—getting focused on other things. Colossians 2:7 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” (Trappings of religion, etc.)
3. The reality is we’ve experienced a spiritual surgery. Colossians 2:11b “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ.” “You died …” (Col. 3:3).
II. A Gift That Opens Up New Possibilities
1. The old possibilities were described just above today’s reading: “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other” (Colossians 2:8-9).
2. The new possibilities are mentioned in verse 12: “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Above them all is love (v. 14). Barclay calls them: THE GARMENTS OF CHRISTIAN GRACE
3. An example of the newness: “There is humility (tapeinophrosunē). It has often been said that humility was a virtue created by Christianity. In classical Greek, there is no word for humility which does not have some suggestion of servility; but Christian humility carries no sense of cringing submission. It is based on two things. First, on the divine side, it is based on the awareness of the creatureliness of humanity. God is the Creator, men and women are the creatures, and in the presence of the Creator the creatures cannot feel anything but humility. Second, on the human side, it is based on the belief that we are all children of God; and there is no room for arrogance when we are living among men and women who are all of royal lineage.”
Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, p. 183). Westminster John Knox Press.
The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon General Guidelines and Practical Exhortations (3:5–17)
Such virtues (or graces), particularly as in the combination here, can appear to encourage a “milksop” weakness as in people whose calling in life is to be a doormat for others—at least as those caught up in the cut and thrust of the rat race count strength. But in fact to live out such a character calls for a strength which is rarely seen in the marketplace (as Jesus demonstrated).
Fresh Waters Reverse the Flow of the Chicago River
In October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of the bustling city of Chicago. But, surprisingly, the flames actually started on the other side of the Chicago River. So how did the fire cross over the river and reach Chicago?
The river-jumping fire is partially explained by the high winds that spread the fire to wooden ships moored in the river. But there was also another even more important factor in the spread of the fire. In those days, the Chicago River was a shallow, sluggish sewer for the entire city. The Union Stock Yards in Chicago dumped all their animal waste into the river. People called it “The Stinking River” or “Bubbly Creek.” It was so bad that the waste was actually combustible.
All of this putrefaction flowed into Lake Michigan, where there were drinking-water intakes for the city. Waterborne diseases broke out. Every year through the 1880s and 1890s, at least 10,000 people died from cholera and typhoid fever. In 1885, fourteen years after the Great Chicago Fire, nearly 100,000 people died from illnesses carried by the river’s putrid waters.
Finally, city engineers took action. First, they started digging 28 miles of canal. They moved more earth and rocks than were moved building the Panama Canal. They set in locks and gates. Then, on January 2, 1900, a worker opened a sluice gate at Lake Michigan, and the entire Great Lakes flowed into the Chicago River, pushing it a direction it had never flowed. They reversed the flow of the Chicago River. It now flowed the opposite way—into the canal, into the Des Plaines River, into the Illinois River, and into the Mississippi.
This brought a huge flow of fresh water. Instead of shallow, sluggish, diseased water, making the community sick, the river now brought the city life. Some writers argue that Chicago would not even be around today, had the flow of the Chicago River not been reversed. The American Society of Civil Engineers named it one of the engineering projects of the millennium.
There’s a similar principle at work in our relationship with Christ—but what Jesus does is even more astonishing: he reverses the flow of the human soul. Instead of the shallow, sluggish, diseased waters of human sinfulness, Jesus has opened the sluice gates of new and living water into our lives.
Source: “The Reversal of the Chicago River in 1900”; “January 2, 1900: Reversing the Chicago River” by John R. Schmidt; “The Reversal of the Chicago River,” American Public Works Association
III. A Gift That Lasts
1. We never outgrow this gift. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another” (v. 16).
2. We “will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3.4).
1. “In a world that is always seeking the full life, believers are the only ones for whom it is truly possible.” Colossians 2:11 (Preaching the Word 41 Vols.)
2. A gift we were meant to enjoy all year.
Liked the attention given to humility and your idea that we can be strong and but humble too.