(This message was part of our annual Christmas program with drama and music. If you would like more information, email email@example.com)
Wise Firemen: A young boy from Texas drew a picture showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three wise men arrived – in a fire. Someone asked the boy why he drew the fire truck and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas accent, was quick to reply: “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.” (Sermon Central)
I. Jesus Came As A Baby: The Humanity of Christmas
Luke 2:12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Any mother knows childbirth is both beautiful and painful. Kenneth Squires writes, “Mary was far from home, far from her family, and far from what she expected that first birth to be. But the whole setting for the child’s birth was apart of an elaborate plan to provide access for lost humanity into God’s family. Why did God experience such a humble birth? He became poor so we could be rich! He became humble so we could be lifted up! He became human so we could become perfect! He became man so we could become His friend!” (Sermon Central)
If you were going to save the world, how would you do it? Probably none of us would send a baby. But God is not one of us. His plans are above our plans. He thinks at a higher level. Jesus comes as a baby demonstrates to us the gift of life, new birth, and the deep interest that God places in us. No matter how much we try, we cannot get to God -He came to us.
When we celebrate Christmas, we need to remember that it all started with a baby in a manger. Not to make us coo and cuddle, but to demonstrate that the power of God that can be found in a child. There are many who doubt Jesus, then and now, but as we listen to children sing, we should remember that anyone who will come to God must come with the faith of a child. As we celebrate Christmas, may we all come to God as children. All our efforts are futile. We must have the faith of a child.
Life is Fragile, Handle with Care: Tom Ehrich: (1997) “...the (economic) crisis at hand goes beyond money. It is spiritual and it has to do with fragility. Despite our best efforts to control reality, life remains a fragile enterprise. How we handle that fragility will shape our futures more than stock values will.” “Wall Street and the spiritual crisis of our fragility.” Source: TOM EHRICH Religion News Service
From the mouths of children You have perfected praise.
II. Jesus Became a Man: We all have to grow up
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents’ house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying at the top of his lungs: "I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE..." "I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO..." His older brother leaned over, nudged him and said, "Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf." to which the little brother replied, "No, but Grandma is!" (Sermon Central)
Can you think back to some of your greatest childhood memories? One year, I got a motorcycle, then a bicycle for my birthday, then a 22 rifle for Christmas. So I set them all up and took a picture because I did not want to forget that moment. Someone stole my bicycle, and that motorcycle sat broke down for many years, and that rifle lies under our bed somewhere behind some boxes. We all have to grow up.
Perhaps the economy can teach us something…
Tom Ehrich “Economy puts Christ back into Christmas”
“so a lifestyle built on credit-funded excess doesn’t look like adult behavior. Large houses look different now. So do large wardrobes, large travel budgets, large parties. The question many are asking isn’t “When can I resume living large?” It is “What was I thinking?” The high point of Christmas, isn’t (large floral displays and costly pageants), but kneeling together for “Silent Night.” (Los Angeles Daily News, 122008, Religious News Service)
We all have to grow up. We get older and experience the ups and downs of life. I am sure you wouldn’t trade it away for all the ups in the world. Some people forget that Jesus experienced all of humanity. Not only was a he a baby, we lived as we do. God became one of us. A T-shirt said, “Religion is man trying to get to God. Christianity is God coming to man.” With all of our knowledge and technology, we still have not got any closer to reaching God on our own. He had to come to us.
When we were young, growing up seemed like a great thing. Then when we are old we wish we were young again. Adulthood seems like a blur sometimes. We rush from here to there or nowhere and wonder where time went. Growing up does not mean growing away from God.
Scripture tells us that Jesus came at the perfect time. There are moments in our lives that God shows up in a special way, but will we be too busy or too full to let Him in?
III. Jesus Became A Savior: Jesus is not a holiday
And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Mt. 1:21
Vance Harrier said that a little girl said she liked Santa Claus better than Jesus because "you have to be good for Santa only at Christmas but for Jesus you have to be good all the time." Much of the Christmas observance at church is not far removed from that attitude. SOURCE: in The Vance Havner Quotebook. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 14. (Sermon Central)
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, Gal 4:4
At the perfect time, God entered the world as Jesus. But God is not an annual that we plant in our flower bed. God transcends time. God is…all the time. But we live on a “schedule” we call life with events like birthdays and Christmas where we go out of our way in special ways.
Can you think of something very special to you? Perhaps you have something very special that you pull out every year for Christmas, like an ornament. It is very precious and means so much to you. Yet for most of the year it stays in a box, in a closet, or in the attic. Some people view Jesus that way. He is very nice and once or twice a year, they pull him out of the closet like an heirloom, a precious memory.
But Jesus is not an ornament or a memory. He hung on a cross, but he did not stay there. He is living and wants to be present with us in every day and every part of our lives. We have ways of putting God away when He is not convenient and then pulling Him out when we need Him. But God is…all the time. Jesus is not a holiday.
Christmas comes and goes quickly. The New Year is only a week later. So it is easy to forget that this story never ends. So what will we do with Jesus when the program is over? Will we put him in a box, in the closet, or in the attic? Or will we celebrate the life of Jesus everyday? What would happen if we had Christ-Mas all year?
Conclusion: During this message, the children’s choir sang. A girl had a solo part and a pretty red dress that she could not wait to wear. When her time to sing came, she forgot the words and fell apart in tears. She walked back to the choir sobbing. Soon, the other children were putting their arms around her to comfort her.
We were hoping for a perfect program. They practiced and practiced. But all of their efforts could not do it. But in her pain, we saw God’s love as the children comforted her.
So God speaks loudly through our children, not in perfect singing, but in flaws and pain. He shows us through them how He feels about us. In spite of our flaws, He loves us in our pain. We can try hard and do our best, but we cannot get to God, He comes to us.