Summary: A Christmas Eve service looking at the Manger Scene and the significance to our lives through those that we see within it.
God’s Christmas Card
Here we are once again celebrating Christmas in troublous times. We hear the phrase, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men,” yet see very little of it.
• We are still fighting the war on terror, which finds our soldiers fighting around the world, and we’re still facing nuclear threats from some pretty unstable regimes.
• We are also fighting battles within our own country with rival gangs killing each other as well as innocent bystanders. And then there is the increased violence within our schools.
• Violent crimes are also on the increase as well as an overall increase in natural disasters, famine and disease across the globe.
These pictures really don’t make Christmas card photos you’d want to send to your family and friends. These are not the scenes of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, nor is it Bing Crosby’s “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”
But maybe we can get a glimpse through these images of what was going on in the world and in the land of Israel on that very first Christmas. The Roman military ruthlessly controlled the nation of Israel. Acts of terrorism by religious zealots were commonplace with the Romans retaliating with ruthless savagery. And religion was making rules with sever punishment if these rules were broken.
The people were weary and oppressed. And it was to this world that Christmas came, and of God breaking through into a world filled with turmoil.
And it is this same story of Christmas that God breaks through into our world as well. In this world filled with turmoil and chaos, Jesus can break through and bring the peace promised by the angels into the lives of those who will believe.
God sends to this earth a Christmas card with the same pictures that He has sent every year since that first Christmas. It is a picture designed to bring hope and peace to all who will embrace it. It is the picture of Jesus’ birth.
The unfortunate part of this picture is that people have become a little bit too familiar with it. They’ve seen it year after year on the mantle places in homes, on the Internet, in postcards, in front yards, and on TV commercials hawking all sorts of merchandise.
Because of all this exposure the nativity has lost its true meaning and has faded into the background of the world’s consciousness.
But it is this Christmas card that God is still sending to all humanity saying that in the midst of the horror, chaos, trials, and tribulations, the promised peace and hope is still available for all who put their hope and trust in that baby lying in a manger.
Let’s take a closer look at this wonderful picture.
The first thing that captures our attention is the Star.
It is the light that guided the Magi to the child Jesus. What this star represents is our receiving directions for our lives. This was no ordinary star. It was a divinely commissioned light.
• Maybe you’ve been wandering around in spiritual circles making little if any headway, and you’re wondering if anything’s going to change?
• Maybe you’re feeling more confused about the meaning of life; that life somehow isn’t adding up the way you thought it should? and
• Maybe you’re thinking that all this talk about a heavenly light to guide our way is good, but it isn’t for our day?
But God has given and commissioned for each person such a light, and it’s just as bright today as it was back then. And that light is the divine light of God’s word, the Bible.
The Psalmist says,
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
And so, as we read God’s word, God’s light will shine in our hearts and in our minds and will dispel the dark curtain of confusion.
Next we see the Stable where Jesus was born.
Now, when our eyes move from the star to the stable, the first thing we notice is the inherent inconsistency of the whole thing. Here God divinely commissioned a heavenly light, but couldn’t provide a suite in the Bethlehem Hilton.
But the stable is as divinely commissioned as the star.
What the stable is saying is that Christmas is all about Jesus becoming one of us so that He would know exactly what we go through. The stable is saying that God sent His Son to experience the full force of this sin filled and dominated world in order to defeat it through His death.
What the stable reveals is that when we are going through the pain and disappointments of life, we can know that we have a Savior who completely understands, because He’s already been there, done that, and cares for us.