Summary: The attitudes that we see in Mary’s life that keep her focused during the first Christmas season...

At the Center of the Season: It’s Not You!

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

All of you probably know someone who loves to be the center of attention. Wherever they are or wherever they go, they are the ones that people are watching and paying attention to. There are some who crave and create the attention and others who try to avoid it but for one reason or another they always find themselves in the limelight.

Some are the center of attention because they have money. If Donald Trump or Bill Gates pulls up in a limo, every head is going to turn and people are going to point and stare.

Ability can make you the center of attention. I was eating at a restaurant in Syracuse and a couple of the basketball players walked in, Gerry Mcnamara and Hakim Warrick, two of the stars. Every eye in the restaurant was focused on them. People were asking for autographs and stopping to say “Hi.” The athletic ability of these two guys made them the center of attention anywhere they went.

Power and position and prestige can make you the center of attention. Prominent political figures and religious figures command the attention of people wherever they go. Each of these things create a stir and a buzz and whether they want it or not, those with these qualities and positions are the center of attention wherever they go.

There’s another type of person that finds themselves at the center of attention. Most of you can probably relate to this kind of person more than you can the others that we’ve mentioned. This is the kind of person with the unique, God-given talent to make an absolute idiot out of themselves. They are the jokers, the ones with no sense of shame or embarrassment, they are the life of the party. My pastor’s son in Ohio, who was in my youth group, was one of these people. It didn’t matter where we went or who we were with, Ryan was going to be at the center of it all. He was incapable of ever being embarrassed, although that certainly wasn’t the case for the rest of us. We went to a hockey game in Cleveland and halfway through the game I let the kids spread out and move to closer seats because the arena was nearly empty. Not 10 minutes later, who do you think landed on the big screen without his shirt and making waves with his belly? It was Ryan. He was having a blast and ended up on the jumbo-tron 4 more times that night in various poses and doing different stupid things. He danced with the mascot and was brought right down behind the bench to entertain the players. By the time we left, he was the most popular person in that arena. He was at the center of attention, no one cared about the game anymore! He loved the attention, and he invited it with his stupid stunts.

There are different ways to be the center of attention. Each one screams out in today’s society and demands to be noticed. As we celebrate Christmas, we’ll see that Jesus isn’t like that. We pause each Christmas and we talk about the reason for the season and the true meaning of Christmas and yet, even knowing the Truth of what that is, it is easily drowned out by all of the other things that call out to us and beg to be placed in the center.

I was at the mall a few years ago and Erin and I were shopping for Christmas, before we had any kids. I had stopped to sit for a minute while she went into one of those smelly candle and soap and perfume stores. I was on a bench right by a Nativity scene and I watched as a little boy stopped and looked at the manger. His mother kept going for a little while and turned around when she realized that he had stopped. I watched as she came back, obviously annoyed. The little boy was just the opposite, he was excited. He pointed at the manger and said, “Mommy, Look, it’s Jesus!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him away and said, “Come on, we don’t have time for that, we’ve got to finish our shopping.”

How many families go through Christmas with the wrong focus, the wrong center? How often do we fall into the trap of allowing everything around us to keep us from stopping and seeing Jesus amidst the lights and decorations? We talked about it last week, Shopping, Cooking, Decorating, Family, and many other things are crying out to be the centerpiece of the Christmas season, but Jesus is different. There is little about Him that demands our attention. There is really nothing flashy and certainly nothing showy about Him, that’s why He tends to get lost amongst everything else. The way He was born and the life that He lived was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah many years before.

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