A gift like no other
Luke 2:11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Christ, the Lord.
Our Sunday School children, Teens, and musicians are doing a wonderful job of presenting the Christmas message to us. But don’t you sometimes wish that you had been able to hear the story of Christ’s birth as the angels first shared it: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10)?
We need to keep going back to Scripture to hear the Christmas message because the message that society sends about this holiday is all mixed up.
If you doubt there is such confusion, then listen to the little girl who told her baby brother the story of Christmas. Her rendition went this way: “Jesus was born just in time for Christmas, up at the North Pole surrounded by eight little reindeer and the Virgin Mary. Then Santa Claus showed up with lots of toys and stuff and some swaddling clothes. The three wise men and elves sang carols, while the Little Drummer Boy and Scrooge helped Joseph trim the tree. In the meantime, Frosty, the Snowman saw this star. Here endeth the reading.”
You may shake your head at such silliness. But the little girl’s sad story is no stranger than those who promote the true meaning of Christmas as family, fuzzy feelings, and cartoon fantasies.
They would have us believe the salvation Jesus brings is secondary to Santa, and His grace less important than expensive gifts and greeting cards. In their hearts the sound of parties and cash registers drown out God’s Good News.
We should not be surprised.
The world, Satan, and sin have always tried to defeat, deny and discredit the coming of the Savior.
But that’s why we are here this evening. Spending the evening with family, telling stories of Christmases past, and enjoying company around cold eggnog and warm fireplaces are important. But they aren’t as important as the Christmas story. They don’t grant salvation like the Child lying in the manger. They don’t comfort the broken heart or heal the shattered family or bring peace on earth like the Savior who has been born to you.
Unlike the little girl who was confused about the Christmas story, we come to church every Christmas Eve so we can once again reflect upon the truth of what happened in the little town of Bethlehem.
Our God did not remain aloof in heaven and bark down orders forcing us to trust Him. Instead He spent nine months in the fetal position beneath the bulging belly of Mary.
God did not pay us an earthly visit, dazzle us with His glory, demand faith, and then vanish into the clouds again. Instead the Son of God dirtied His diaper. He who could walk on water stumbled and fell as He learned to walk as a toddler. He who is the Alpha and Omega was schooled in His Aramaic alphabet.
Those chubby little baby hands would one day be pierced with nails to save you. That beautiful head crowned with a tuft of brown hair would one day be crowned with thorns. His first cry in the manger would be followed 33 years later by His last cry upon Calvary’s cross as He proclaimed “It is finished!”
God left His heavenly throne to be laid in a manger. He set aside His golden crown, took off His royal robe, and put on the work clothes of a servant. He put on our humanity. He rolled up His sleeves to go about the business of saving us by becoming one of us – in His birth, His baptism, His defeat of the devil, His healing of the sick, His raising of the dead, His suffering, dying, and rising again. Christ the Lord works and weeps and suffers and sleeps and bleeds and dies and rises again.
Jesus came to earth so we might be taken to heaven. He surrounded Himself with Mary and Joseph and shepherds and Magi so we might be surrounded by saints and angels. He endured temporal suffering and pain and wrath and death so we might enjoy life and blessings eternal. He who is divine became mortal, so that we who are mortal might be in the presence of the divine.
Our world keeps messing up the Christmas story. That’s why we constantly go back to Scripture to hear the story of good news of great joy. It is the story of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of the cross, the Savior of the empty tomb. Amen.