Summary: Until you go, you’ll never know; until you know, you’ll never grow; until you grow, you’ll never glow.
Christmas Questions: Discovery
Rev. Brian Bill
Our culture really gets into Christmas cards. It’s reported that Americans send 2.1 billion of them each year. Hallmark alone has more than 2,700 Christmas card designs. I confess that, like Nathan in our drama, I don’t always read the cards but do like to catch up on those famous “Our-family-is-perfect Christmas letters” often found inside. Some cards just seem to be sentimental and sappy while others are just plain predictable. And a few make us laugh.
I came across some comical cards that made me chuckle like jolly old St. Nick. Check out this one: “Christmas is just plain weird. What other time of the year do you sit around staring at a dead tree in your living room and eat candy out of your socks?”
Behind all the serious and light-hearted cards, stands the truth that at Christmas we celebrate the sending of God’s Son into our world. We’re beginning a new series today called “Christmas Questions.” Today we’re looking at the theme of discovery. At the heart of Christianity is the invitation to come and see if what the Bible says is really true. God is an inviting God and wants each of us to pursue Him. To discover means “a thing found out through exploration, or for the first time ascertained or recognized.”
One night a couple months ago our family heard a loud noise in the neighborhood which was followed by what appeared to be a flash of lightning. We immediately lost power, as did all the houses around us. We scrambled to find flashlights and candles. I was very curious as to what happened so Becca and I got in the car and started driving in the direction of the noise and flashing light. While we were driving down darkened streets, we noticed a bunch of people walking and driving in the same direction we were. I commented to Becca, “Look at all those crazy people trying to figure out what happened.” She just rolled her eyes at me. When we came out of our subdivision, we saw flashing lights near a power pole and learned that a car had hit it, thus knocking out the transformer. Now here’s the deal. If we had not done some discovery, we never would have known what happened.
It’s my prayer that we’ll get past all the Christmas clutter this season and discover what really happened 2,000 years ago when the babe in Bethlehem burst onto the scene. Marcel Proust has some great words in this regard: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It’s my hope that we will have new eyes to see the Nativity.
Have you heard the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt?” That basically means that the more familiar we are with something, at best we get bored with it or at worst, we start resenting it. That’s why many of us just chuck our Christmas cards. Let’s try hard to encounter these accounts as if we were hearing them for the first time.
People had been pleading with God to come down into their world for a long time. Listen to Psalm 144:5: “Part your heavens, O Lord, and come down…” Isaiah said something similar in Isaiah 64:1: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down…” Isaiah is bold about his longing for something more. He dared to believe that something better was coming even though his culture was corrupt and everything around him seemed so dark. He is longing for the Lord to somehow come down into his world to make sense out of all the nonsense, to bring peace to all the problems, to dispel the darkness and to extricate evil. He’s hungry to have the Holy One enter our whacked-out world in an extraordinary manner.
Friends, aren’t you glad that the Lord has come down? Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 2. Most people in America are familiar with this passage because every December since 1965, in between scenes of the Grinch slithering around Whoville and George Bailey looking for a wonderful life and Rudolf not playing reindeer games, we hear from Linus who knows the true meaning of Christmas. Listen to the answer he gave to Charlie Brown’s question: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
--> YouTube Video: Charlie Brown’s Christmas
Let’s set the scene. An angelic intervention takes place when God rocks the routine of some guys who are just out doing their job. Luke 2:8: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” In the early pages of the Bible, shepherding was considered a noble profession but in the first century shepherding had lost its luster. Shepherds made up the lowest class of people, coming in just ahead of the lepers. Living out in the fields away from society made them outcasts. Most of them had foul mouths and were ready to fight at the drop of a hat. Kind of sounds like me in my high school days.