Jesus is here.
This is our story tonight. This is our story to tell. The first to hear the news were shepherds out at work that night. About 10 months ago we went to Bethlehem, not literally to the city in Pennsylvania or to the city in Judea. Bethlehem for us was in a hospital in Rochester not even 30 minutes drive from our home.
It's amazing to see new life begin. It's a blessing for us to watch and to behold this child who comes to meet us. I started looking at Christmas this year thinking about all the stories we tell at Christmas in our culture that have nothing to do with the coming of our savior.
Rudolf and Frosty
We preach about Light and we preach about Hope. But we aren't preaching a vague or metaphoric light and hope either. We are called to preach about the Light that came in a little boy's body to enlighten the whole world. If you need to remember why we must talk about Jesus above all else at Christmas please consider these words from Nancy Marshall.
Darkness. It would be difficult living in darkness, waiting, confused, lost, wanting to see a glimmer of light. If just a little light appeared, people couldn’t help but turn and look at it. “What is that?” they would say. They couldn’t ignore it. It would be a compelling force, because people WANT to see. Most people. Some people who are in the dark don’t even know it. Darkness becomes habitual. It helps to conceal what they are doing. They think they are getting away with something that they couldn’t get away with in the light.
The people of God had lost their way. They had a list of rules. They had some stories that they would tell traditionally every year, but they were still way off the path.
A new year lays just ahead. It will be filled with new challenges and new joys. Sort of like parenthood. Every year of our kids lives brings new joys and new challenges. If you are a parent today you know that your work isn't done. God's work isn't done yet. So by faith let's open our hands and join in the work. Let's follow in the steps of Mary, Joseph, the shepherd and all the others who have gone before us in awe and wonder. Let's walk on in faith. Let's open our lives up to God's Word to discover His will. Let's trust in His providence to sustain us and all others who place their trust in God in the year ahead.
Let's be bold and tell the best story of all
Twas the night before Christmas, Joseph and Mary found no house
There's no room in the inn, no place for her to give birth;
The found a stable full of animals out in the open air,
And Hope for the whole world would soon be born there;
This child was coming, this was the night, a manger was his first bed,
Meanwhile shepherds in the fields had visions of angles over head;
The angels told men in the field watching their flocks staffs in hand,
He is coming tonight, Glory to God in heaven, he's coming,
The angles sang out in a heavenly chorus,
The shepherds headed to town to meet this little one so Glorious,
They came to the stable and found a young family just like the angles said
They walked in and told Mary all that the angles had said
And Mary treasured their words in her heart.
And up above that cattle shed a from a star shone overhead,
Others came from afar their eye's beheld a great wonder in clothes swaddled tight,
He is true hope, this child came for a world longing to see God's light
He came for every one young and old, well and sick,
He knew us long before his first night in Bethlehem in a bed of straw.
His will and God the Father's are one in the same,
Jesus knows us, even the hairs on our head, and he knows you by name.
Remember Isaiah and Amos and Micah!
Remember these prophets of old who said one would come,
Go tell it on the mountain! and at the city wall!!
Now Jesus come to us, come to us, come to us all!
Let our old sins blow away like leaves in a hurricane fly,
You came to meet us here and not in the sky,
He comes to every house and every lost one he seeks out,
This is God's true heart come to save us and our lives to renew
God comes fast in the twinkling of an eye.
He came to the place where hoofs tread.
Our king is coming, to turn our lives around,
Into our homes and our lives here on this ground.
Years later He was dressed as carpenters son,
His clothes and hands bore the signs of their labor;
He knew the joys of family, friends, and work,
Still in years to come a whip would scourge his back.
His eyes – with them he could see all, this son of Mary!
His cheeks he would not withhold from their slaps
From his mouth came words sharp like sword
And the beard on his face would be plucked before death;
Herod would try to cut him down at the stump,
But God would not give up, this child is our hope.
He had a human face and a truly divine heart,
That heart he revealed in stories and healings,
He was gracious and strong, a man right with God,
And he sees us with love, in spite of our sins,
With his eyes he sees what sins ought to leave us dead,
Still believing now in His love and rising we have nothing to dread;
We cling to his word, we cling to his work,
His birth filled the shepherds with joy, God saving power was at work.
This little one would lay aside all honor and glory
And giving up everything he would be raised up for all history
He went to the grave and 3 days later he rose,
And all that was left in the grave were his clothes.
Let's go with the shepherds to see him. Let's hear the angles tonight.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Glory to God in the Highest, AMEN