The Christmas season is a time of rest and celebration. But it is also a time of great opportunity. The workplace is filled with Christmas carols and decorations. Family gatherings bring Christians together with their unsaved loved ones. Neighbors exchange gifts and host neighborhood parties. Opportunities to serve the poor and needy abound. In all of this, what better way for Christians to celebrate Christmas than by imitating the example of their Lord and serving those around them, and by dwelling on the love of the Savior? Spurgeon writes,
We citizens of the New Jerusalem, having the Lord Jesus in our midst, may well excuse ourselves from the ordinary ways of celebrating this season; and considering ourselves to be “holy work-folk,” we may keep it after a different sort from other men, in holy contemplation and in blessed service of that gracious God whose unspeakable gift the new-born King is to us.
In his sermon, “Holy Work of Christmas,” Spurgeon unpacks Luke 2:17-20 and gives “four ways of serving God, four methods of executing holy work and exercising Christian thought.” What are four ways we can serve God during Christmas?
By publishing abroad what we have seen and heard of the Savior
They had seen God incarnate—such a sight that he who gazeth on it must feel his tongue unloosed, unless indeed an unspeakable astonishment should make him dumb. Be silent when their eyes had seen such a vision! Impossible! To the first person they met outside that lowly stable door they began to tell their matchless tale, and they wearied not till nightfall, crying, “Come and worship! Come and worship Christ, the newborn King!” As for us, beloved, have we also not something to relate which demands utterance? If we talk of Jesus, who can blame us? This, indeed, might make the tongue of him that sleeps to move—the mystery of God incarnate for our sake, bleeding and dying that we might neither bleed nor die, descending that we might ascend, and wrapped in swaddling bands that we might be unwrapped of the grave-clothes of corruption. Here is such a story, so profitable to all hearers that he who repeats it the most often does best, and he who speaks the least hath most reason to accuse himself for sinful silence.
By holy wonder, admiration, and adoration
Let me suggest to you that holy wonder at what God has done should be very natural to you. That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction, should devise a wonderful scheme for his redemption, and that he should himself undertake to be man’s Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed, marvellous! Probably it is most marvellous to you in its relation to yourself, that you should be redeemed by blood; that God should forsake the thrones and royalties above to suffer ignominiously below for you. If you know yourself you can never see any adequate motive or reason in your own flesh for such a deed as this. “Why such love to me?” you will say. If David sitting in his house could only say, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” what should you and I say? Had we been the most meritorious of individuals, and had unceasingly kept the Lord’s commands, we could not have deserved such a priceless boon as incarnation; but sinners, offenders, who revolted and went from God, further and further, what shall we say of this incarnate God dying for us, but “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us.” Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder, dear friends, is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship; being astonished at what God has done, you will pour out your soul with astonishment at the foot of the golden throne with the song, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and majesty, and power, and dominion, and might be unto Him who sitteth on the throne and doeth these great things to me.”
By pondering and preserving the love of the Savior
One at least, and let us hope there were others, or at any rate let us ourselves be others—one kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. She wondered: she did more—she pondered. You will observe there was an exercise on the part of this blessed woman of the three great parts of her being; her memory—she kept all these things; her affections—she kept them in her heart; her intellect—she pondered them, considered them, weighed them, turned them over; so that memory, affection, and understanding, were all exercised about these things. We delight to see this in Mary, but we are not at all surprised when we recollect that she was in some sense the most concerned of all on earth, for it was of her that Jesus Christ had been born. Those who come nearest to Jesus and enter the most closely into fellowship with him, will be sure to be the most engrossed with him. Certain persons are best esteemed at a distance, but not the Savior; when you shall have known him to the very full, then shall you love him with the love which passeth knowledge; you shall comprehend the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths of his love; and when you shall do so, then your own love shall swell beyond all length and breadth, all height and depth… I desire to bring you to this thought, that if during this season you retiring quiet ones cannot speak to others, or have no desirable opportunity or suitable gift for that work, you may sit still with Jesus and honor him in peace.
By glorifying and praising God in our everyday work
The shepherds went back to the sheep-pens glorifying and praising God. Beloved, it is not office, it is earnestness; it is not position, it is grace which will enable us to glorify God. God is most surely glorified in that cobbler’s stall where the godly worker as he plies the awl sings of the Savior’s love, ay, glorified far more than in many a prebendal stall where official religiousness performs its scanty duties. The name of Jesus is glorified by yonder carter as he drives his horse and blesses his God, or speaks to his fellow laborer by the roadside as much as by yonder divine who, throughout the country like Boanerges, is thundering out the gospel. God is glorified by our abiding in our vocation. Take care you do not fall out of the path of duty by leaving your calling, and take care you do not dishonor your profession while in it; think not much of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings.
There is no trade which is not sanctified by the gospel. If you turn to the Bible, you will find the most menial forms of labor have been in some way or other connected either with the most daring deeds of faith, or else with persons whose lives have been otherwise illustrious; keep to your calling, brother, keep to your calling! Whatever God has made thee, when he calls thee abide in that, unless thou art quite sure, mind that, unless thou art quite sure that he calls thee to something else. The shepherds glorified God though they went to their trade.