Summary: 4th in Christmas Series. Written and Preached Christmas Eve by Associate Minister, Steve Higgs.
From Then Till Now
Have you ever noticed how Christmas a very polarizing holiday? People either really love Christmas or they really dislike it. Let me give you a few examples:
For every person that says, “I can’t wait to be able spend some extra time with my family”, there is another person saying, “Ok what is the perfect mix of alcoholic beverage to get me through the night.”
For every wife that says, “I love decorating the house for Christmas, especially all the lights”, there is a husband that says, “I hope I don’t fall off the roof.”
For every parent that says, “I’m going to take the kids over to get their picture taken with Santa” there is a terrified child saying, “I’m going to have nightmares for a year over that really creepy old guy in the red suit.”
For every student that says, “It’s December that means that Steve is going to put on a Christmas Lock-In” there is an adult leader saying, “there isn’t enough aspirin in all the world.”
For the sake of total disclosure….I love Christmas time. I’m really not even that ashamed to admit that I don’t mind the consumerist aspects of Christmas. I enjoy getting presents and giving presents. I enjoy the lights and the tree, and I definitely enjoy the food.
Having said that, I understand completely that is not what Christmas is all about. I think that whatever side of the Christmas coin you fall on you probably understand that the true meaning of Christmas is not about Santa and reindeer, and presents.
I want to spend some time this evening answering not just a good question, but answering the main question. Here it is, for those of us living in the 21st century with jobs, debt, and families why does Christmas matter at all….really what difference does a baby in a manger make to me. Let me phrase it a slightly different way….where does Christmas past intersect with Christmas present…..where does Jesus journey meet up with my journey.
To answer that question we have to go back 2000 years ago. You can feel the stress as you read Matthews account of the story. Mary and Joseph are not yet married and she becomes pregnant. Joseph knows by the laws of nature that the baby is not his, so he plans to divorce Mary (in those days and engagement was important and could only be broken by divorce). As he plans to do this an angel comes to him in a dream and says that Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from his sins. Matthew gives a little historical commentary and says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel which means, God with us.”
For 33 years that is exactly what Jesus was: God with us. I like how Rob Bell from Mars Hill Bible Church explains this concept he says that Jesus was this heavenly invasion into earth, and I think that’s true. You can see it in a couple of stories.
In John 11 Jesus goes to a funeral for his friend Lazarus. The family is there and they are mourning….there’s a lot of tears. The text says that Jesus was moved by their mourning and he begins to cry as well. It’s at that moment that I think Jesus came to a realization: he didn’t really like funerals that much. So, he decides to raise the dead guy from his grave—that’s certainly one way to end a funeral.
There is a large crowd following Jesus, and in that crowd is a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. The Bible says that she’d been to all the doctors and spent all her money trying to get better, but instead of getting better she just got worse and worse. So, she hears about a healer named Jesus and just wants to touch him in hopes that she’d be healed. She does touch Jesus and Jesus realizes it and says, “who touched me” and his disciples say, “who touched you! You are surrounded by people, what do you mean who touched you.” Jesus turns to the women and says, “you’re faith has made you well.”
Listen to this Scripture from Revelations 21, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” That is talking about heaven. Obviously, Jesus did not heal every person he ran into, he didn’t raise every person from the dead, crying didn’t cease to exist when he was here on earth. But, in certain situations and in some stories Jesus illustrates for us perfectly what it’s going to be like in heaven. He was this heavenly invasion into earth….the two collided. He was Immanuel: God with us.