Summary: This is a Christmas Eve homily that focuses on God's ultimate plan for humanity. The primary message is how God, in Jesus, share with us his true image. The challenge is for each of us to bear that image as he transforms us from the inside and lived out in the world.
God lying in a manger! Celebrating Christmas should not be viewed as an event, we should view it from the perspective of a process. Christmas, as reflected in my Christmas series, Reliving Christmas, began with God. Our introduction to God is found in the creation story—God is eternal and existed before the foundation of the universe. In his infinite mind he decided to create humanity with the ability to bear his image.
God lying in a manger! Long story short, humanity failed due to a desire to go it alone. After thousands of years with God being hurt (the source of his anger) because humanity would not listen to those he sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40), decided to do something incredibly unique.
God lying in a manger! This is the heart of the Christmas story. This is where we need to understand God’s plan as a process and not just a series of events. Too often Christians become event oriented (e.g., creation vs evolution, birth of Jesus, his death, his resurrection, his return, evangelism, etc.). What are we to learn about God as he lay in the manger and walked on earth? Understanding that is key for understanding God and his plan.
God lying in a manger! While celebrating the birth of Jesus, let’s also seek to understand this event in the process of God’s plan. The God-Child grew up. God used each portion of history to show us what he intended when creating a humanity to bear his image.
God lying in a manger! Throughout the life of the God-Child we see the true nature of God. John the Baptist said this about the God-Child. “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I am baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.” Mark 1:7-8 MSG
Here is the take-away from the process God uses to restore his intended story of humanity. In the God-Child we see how a human can become, to use a biological technical term, a prototype of a God-changed life.
God lying in a Manger! That is the beauty of the Christmas story. Many want to view baptism by the Holy Spirit as linked to an act of worship; this is a self-gratifying and self-inflation response. A savior is born points to the reality that God can transform us, from the inside out. Paul was excited about this process. He wrote to the people of the Way at Philippi,
"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." Philippians 1:6
God lying in a manger and transforming us into his image. Saint Nick was a person who was a prototype of a person on the Way. He is known for secretly helping people by giving them money from the wealth left by his parents. Following his death, the self-giving spirit that had been birthed by the God-Child and transmitted to him, people continued the practice of giving. I am sure he would have said, along with Paul,
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14.
Good Ole Saint Nick. The Dutch continued to celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas. Children would put out their shoes the night before, anticipating the next morning they would discover gifts from Saint Nicholas. Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sint Nikolaas or by his nickname, Sinterklaas, to America in the 1700s. A prototype; however, he was one of many who embraced the transformed life, a life modeled by the God-Man.