Summary: A Christmas sermon.
“A Dirty Christmas”
Hebrews 2:10-11, 14-18
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
This morning I preached a sermon which included a lot of talk about Christmas trees.
I talked about how Christmas trees ought to point beyond themselves to Christ.
But there may be a little something I left out.
Under every Christmas tree in the midst of the brightly wrapped packages, the choo-choo train winding its way through that picturesque winter village, and the glorious Nativity scene with the Virgin Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the baby Jesus ought to be a pail of dirt.
And that dirt ought to be really dirty dirt!
Not like that kind of sanitized stuff we can buy at Lowes or Home Depot.
No, that dirt out to be real grubby, crumbly, and perhaps a bit smelly.
Because that pail of dirt, more than the bright lights, and even the cute little manger scene, reminds us of what God is really up to at Christmas.
It’s too easy for us to overlook the significance that Jesus was born in a barn and laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.
That’s the unvarnished truth of Christmas.
Dirt, manure, terrible smells, these aren’t the things we usually associate with the Presence of God.
But Christmas announces to us that this is the kind of God we have.
It’s the dirt of Christmas that helps us understand just how great God is!!!
The author of Hebrews reminds us, “In bringing many [children] to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Christmas is about pain.
A woman gave birth that night.
Christmas is about God leaving heaven and coming down to be with us in the midst of our dirt!
Who of us would set aside our power and privilege and enter this world in the midst of the dirt and stench of a barn?
But God did.
And that is Good News!!!
That is the best news imaginable!!!
For with this knowledge we can know that we have a God Who loves us beyond comprehension.
Jesus suffered for our salvation!
God “shared in” our “humanity”…
…Jesus was “made” like us “in every way”, and “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being temped.”
In Christ’s all too ordinary birth in Bethlehem we meet God, not in some terrible and frightening holiness that makes us sinners shake in our boots but in His loving and merciful holiness, which is God’s true holiness!!!
And Jesus is “not ashamed to call” us brothers and sisters.
Many of us have probably seen the movie A River Runs through it.
It tells the story of two brothers growing up in the beautiful Montana countryside.
The older brother is quiet, studious, hard-working; he got a good job and became a respected man in the community.
His wild brother was a lot of fun, but was always getting into trouble, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable.
He ended up hanging out with people who led him deeper and deeper into trouble, and was finally killed in a bar-fight.
The brothers had grown far apart.
It’s a moving and tragic story, and the most tragic thing about it is that the older brother saw what was coming, and there was nothing he could do about it.
He couldn’t reach him.
He couldn’t come to where he was and rescue him.
But that is exactly what God has chosen to do for us in Jesus Christ, our Brother!!!
Since we couldn’t save ourselves, Jesus “shared” in our “humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is the devil…”
That’s right, Jesus is the One Who leads the way, who clears the path for our salvation!!!
On along in Hebrews Chapter 4 we are told, “we do not have a high priest [that is Christ] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”
Jesus did something that no one has ever been able to do…
…something that none of us will ever be able to do…
…Jesus emerged from the mess and dirt of this world completely sinless!!!
And Jesus went through some realty, really dirty dirt!!!
Because the fact that Jesus was without sin means that Jesus knew depths and tensions and assaults of temptation that we could never know!
Jesus’ battle with temptation wasn’t easier than ours…it was much, much harder!
Well, think about it.
We fall to temptation long before the tempter or the devil has put on his full assault!