Summary: The good news this Christmas is that you can be God’s child, if you will receive Him into your life.
[ Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-6 - Read at start of worship ]
I want to again express a special welcome… especially to those who may have come for the first time. I know it’s no small thing to come to a gathering with people you don’t yet know. I’d like to reassure you that most of those here are relatively normal… but I’m not sure any of us are best thought of as normal. From God’s perspective I suppose we are all a little eccentric… and exceptional.
I know that for a lot of us… Christmas can bring an interesting mixture of feelings. It’s a season in which the world stops to celebrate so right… something that seems to bring a peace and hope like at no other time. Yet we also sense that it’s hard to grasp and get hold of.
Many of us struggle to feel we become too busy at Christmas… and we wonder if the traditions are overtaking what is central. I share those feelings. But I also find I love the traditions… and wonder if the real challenge isn’t deeper than just being busy.
Our household began its Christmas season with a little irony. Out 7 year old daughter Cate begins to get the nativity scene out…. I’m in the other room and suddenly here her scream… Lucas our dog has grabbed something…sure enough… he grabbed the baby Jesus… and I’m prying it out of his mouth…. Yelling… give me “Jesus.’ A part of me thought maybe it was a rescue mission… after all… Lucas is a retriever. But what struck me more is that maybe it just reflects the problem that we make Jesus too small. Maybe the fact that Jesus can be so easily snatched is that he is reduced to such a symbolic icon.
I believe the greatest illusion we face is that we can reduce God to a manageable deity.
This may be especially true at Christmas… where it’s as if our culture has mastered the ability to reduce Christ to a small and sentimental figure… who is safe for us to look upon and handle. If we are going to make room for true Christ of Christmas.. the Christ-Mass… we may need to start with piercing the illusion that he can be reduced to a sentimental symbol that we can manage… and icon of inspiration.
I believe that making room for the Christ of Christmas is less about what’s around us… and more about making room within us within us.
One of the disciples who wrote one of the Gospels… which are the first hand accounts of Christ…was named John…and he describes the coming of Christ into this world with a more cosmic perspective. The apostle John said this.
John 1:9-14 (NLT)
9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 3:16-17 (NLT)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John steps back and declares the cosmic truth… Christmas is about a collision…the very source of life has come as a light for all… but it is a threat to the darkness.
The very light that is essential is also exposing. It comforts and confronts.
This is precisely what we see in the lives of those who surrounded the birth of Christ. If we consider the events of Christ’s birth we realize that the stable wasn’t the only place that didn’t have room…
• King Herod – didn’t have room
• Religious culture didn’t have room.
• Roman Empire didn’t have room.
We discover that nobody made the mistake of reducing him to a sentimental symbol that was safe.
When we consider all that came into contention when Christ entered our world… we can begin to realize what making room for Christ involves. I want to help us consider the reality of what’s involved in receiving the one whose birth we celebrate.
Making room for Christ involves…