Summary: The Christmas narrative is in danger of being relegated to a sweet story that is just read once a year. Some of us have heard it so much that we’re no longer moved by the magnitude of the Majesty becoming a man. We must never forget that this is holy hi
A God Who Gives
As we prepare for Christmas, sometimes I wonder if we have allowed the Savior to be stolen from our celebrations. We’ve sterilized the spiritual and been inoculated by the familiarity of the nativity. “Merry Christmas” has been replaced with “Happy Holidays.” Have you noticed that, “Are you ready for Christmas?” is often code for, “Do you have all your shopping done?” It’s so easy to walk right past the manger with our arms full of gifts, isn’t it?
Did you hear about the middle school in New Jersey that canceled a field trip to a performance of “A Christmas Carol” because some might be offended by the play’s Christian themes? As columnist Cal Thomas points out, this is not really even a Christian story, though it does contain elements of charity, kindness and good will. Amazingly, instead of allowing the students to see this classic Dickens’ presentation, they went to the “Great Railroad Race,” a play that promotes diversity. Thomas writes, “Does it teach tolerance if we melt down Christmas…into a single meaningless ‘holiday’? (www.tmsfeatures.com: 12/9/02).
Related to this, an editorial appeared in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune which sums up how our culture’s obsession with political correctness has gutted the greatness of Christmas: “Now that December is here, I’m reminded [that] the most taboo word in our country is…‘Christmas.’ It’s amusing watching people on the TV news shows talking about Christmas but going through verbal gymnastics to avoid saying the word…even the Santa’s with kettles greet you with ‘Happy Holidays.’ When they say, ‘Merry Christmas,’ I’ll give a donation” (Chicago Tribune, 12/12/02).
I want to suggest this morning that if we want to have a Merry Christmas, we must first understand Mary’s Christmas. If you have your Bible, please turn to Luke 1, beginning in verse 26. We’re going to walk through a few verses on our way to the manger and then we’re going to unwrap some of the words of Christmas by focusing on God’s gifts to Mary.
During this three-part series that will conclude on Christmas Eve, I want us to rediscover the reverence of the Incarnation because the whole superstructure of Christianity rests on the reality of Christmas. The word “incarnation” literally means the act of assuming flesh, whereby the Son of God voluntarily assumed a human body and nature. Don Skinner put it this way: “God did not send Christ to us; God came to us in Christ.” Jesus is fully God and fully man, as we will see in our passage today. A theologian described the incarnation with these words: “…God must be able to come over to our side without leaving his own ‘side.’”
Let’s see how God came over to our side. Let me say at the beginning that the Christmas narrative is in danger of being relegated to a sweet story that is just read once a year. Some of us have heard it so much that we’re no longer moved by the magnitude of the Majesty becoming a man. We must never forget that this is holy history that should be approached with awe and astonishment. The astronaut James Erwin, who traveled to the moon, experienced things that you and I never will. And yet, he never got over the crux of Christmas when he said, “There’s something more important than man walking on the moon, and that is God, walking on the earth.”