Summary: As we celebrate “God With Us”, will we commit to “be there” for Him?
“BEING THERE” AT CHRISTMAS
It seems the Big News this year is the purported “stealing of Christmas.” Consider:
The South Orange/Maplewood School District just down the road has banned all Christmas songs with religious references – even instrumental arrangements that contain no lyrics!
In Denver, CO a local non-profit group runs an annual “Parade of Lights” Christmas parade. They banned a local church from participating in their Christmas parade because their proposed float with a Merry Christmas sign and carolers had a “religious theme.” But they did allow a “Two Spirit Society’s” float, which honors homosexual American Indians as “holy people.”
A local school multicultural committee in Pennsylvania set up a holiday display that included a creche (manger scene), a menorah and a Kwanzaa scene. The principal demanded that the creche be removed, although the other items could stay.
Just yesterday, we had dinner at Pizza Hut for Isaiah’s Birthday. After quite a while my wife, Rachel, suddenly remarked how strange it was that the restaurant did not have a single decoration, light or sign nor was there any Christmas music. I remember remarking to her that it was probably corporate policy not to mark any religious holidays so as not to offend any one. Apparently, nobody considered that the absence of recognition can be just as offensive as its presence.
The list could go on and on. Consider these thoughts from Zig Ziglar, an evangelical and one of the world’s most sought after and respected public speakers and author:
In this Christmas season we hear people using the term “happy holidays.” Needless to say, when Muslims are celebrating Ramadan, nobody says to them, “Happy Holidays,” and when my Jewish friends are celebrating Yom Kippur, nobody says to them, “Happy Holiday.” However, at Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ (without which there would be NO Christmas), more and more people are sending “Happy Holiday” cards. When I’m greeted with “Happy Holidays!”, I smile (and I encourage you to do the same thing), thank them, and then say, “I’ll go you one better. I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas, since this is the celebration of the birth that had the most impact of any birth since the history of mankind.” When the Babe in Bethlehem was born it was announced that He was the Savior of the world . . .
What does Christmas mean to you? Is it a holiday or a holy day? Is it one day or season a year or is it a mindset? Does the Spirit of Christmas come only one month a year or is it a Spirit that can be with us 24/7/365? As we reflect on these questions, , I would like to challenge us all to a “Christmas Quest.”
CHRISTMAS QUEST: As we celebrate “God With Us”, will we commit to “be there” for Him?
I.Immanuel – “God With Us” Isaiah 7:14
Read aloud together, Pew Bible pg. 673.
Sounds great, but what does it really mean?
A.) Born to be there With Us Matthew 1:20-23, pg. 945
Many know I am a certified grief and trauma counselor. In all of those hours of training, there is one common, oft-repeated refrain: “nothing is more important, necessary or helpful than to just ‘be there’ for people – don’t talk, don’t do, don’t fix, just ‘be there’.”
“To be there” defines the essence of the Incarnation.
Jesus condescended Himself to leave perfect Heaven to come to our confused, chaotic, self-destructive, sinful and hurting world so we would know that especially in the worst of times, God is “there for us.”
B.) Born to be there As One of Us Philippians 2:5-8. pg. 1152
He came not in a great epiphany of power, might and majesty, but in every way as one of us.
Not just in appearance, but even in flesh and in nature. Jesus was 100% man and 100% God.
Nobody may truthfully say that Jesus can’t possibly understand because He has never been human like us, or has not experienced our emotions, hurts, pains and injustices. He did and He did it for you and for me!
C.) Born to be there For Us Matthew 13:1-3a; 15:30-32, pp. 958, 962
D.) Born to be there To Die For Our Deliverance
While everything we’ve reflected on so far is more than enough reason to celebrate and stand in awe, it is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. What He came for, the principle reason He condescended Himself to be ’born’ a helpless human baby and endure the sufferings, derision, injustices and rejection of this world was in order to die the perfect sacrifice as the only means by which any could be saved from the penalty of sin – eternal death and separation from God!
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever