Iliff and Saltillo UM
December 22, 2002
Enjoying a God-Planned Christmas
Psalm 89:1-4; 19-26
STORY: On Sunday afternoon, June 1st 1975, Darrel Dore was on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly it wobbled, tipped to one side, and crashed into the sea. Darrell was trapped inside a room on the rig. As the rig sank deeper and deeper into the sea the lights went out and the room began to fill with water. Thrashing about in the darkness, Darrel accidentally found a huge air bubble that was forming in the corner of the room. He thrust his head inside it. Then a horrifying thought sent a shiver down his spine. "I’m buried alive". Darrell began to pray - out loud - and as he did, something remarkable happened. He said later: "I found myself actually talking to Someone. Jesus was there with me. There was no illumination, nothing physical, but I sensed him, a comforting presence. He was real, he was there." For the next 22 hours that Presence continued to comfort Darrel. But now the oxygen supply inside the bubble was giving out. Death was inevitable. It was just a matter of time. Then a remarkable thing happened. Darrel saw a tiny star of light shimmering in the pitch-black water. Was it real? or after 22 hours was he beginning to hallucinate? Darrel squinted his eyes. The light seemed to grow brighter. He squinted again. He wasn’t hallucinating. The light was real. It was coming from a diver’s helmet. Someone had found him. His 22 hour nightmare was over. Rescue had come. He was saved. (source unknown)
That true story is a remarkable illustration of what Christmas is all about. Sin had wobbled our world, tipped it to one side, and sent it crashing into the waters of spiritual disaster. Darkness was everywhere. The human race was hopelessly trapped. There was no hope. Humankind was doomed to certain spiritual death. People turned to God. They prayed in the words of the prophet Isaiah - "O Lord, you are angry and we are sinful, all of us have become unclean. Yet O Lord, you are father. Save and deliver us."
They prayed, and they waited for the time promised to them - the time of the Messiah, the time of the one who would inherit the throne of David and rule - in peace forever. Then, when the night seemed darkest, something remarkable happened. A tiny spark of light appeared. An angel spoke to a young woman and told her that she would conceive and bear a son, and that son would be the Son of the Most High God - that he would be the Messiah. The light was dim - but it brightened through the next weeks and months - at least for some who were looking for such a light. It appeared to them as a star in the sky - a star which they followed in the hope that it would lead them to the birthplace of a great king. But for all the rest the light was still unseen, and even to those who had seen it it still could be mistaken for nothing but a dream, the hallucination of a drowning man, a hope based on an illusion. Finally, on the night that the baby was born and laid in a manger, the light appeared to certain poor shepherds who lay a-keeping their flocks, and an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them as the angel spoke, and said "Behold - I proclaim to you good news of a great joy, for today in David’s city a Saviour has been born for you, He is the Messiah, the Lord you have waited for."
And so the nightmare of the human race came to an end. Rescue had come. Jesus , the son of God, had come down from heaven to save the human race, just as the diver had come down to save Darrel Dore. That is what Christmas is about. Its about salvation,, its about seeing the light come into the world to deliver us from sin and darkness, its about God coming to us, and dwelling with us, and rescuing us certain death.
2. Expectations: Things do not always happen as we expect them to. Especially when God breaks into our life. Sometimes people say, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and we go on without much change in our life. It sounds good, but the reason for the Season actually has a different focus. God’s took the initiative at Bethelehem because of His great love for us. Having heard the plea of his people, he responded in an expression of grace and truth recognized in the manger. The tiny bit of light came to us when we were all groping in sin. Our need prompted the chain of events that began in the City of David and ended in the darkness of a Friday years later. Redemption--forgiveness--salvation--drawing our attention along with the shepherds.
Sometimes we are reluctant to admit that we are the reason for the incarnation--for Jesus coming to us when we were so desparately lost. By allowing today’s bumper sticker theology to pull our attention away from our own needs leaves us aloof and beyond our need for God. Sometimes our sense of righteousness may prevent us from acknowledging that we have any needs or. We think we are good enough and that others are not good enough or that they are undeserving of God. By removing our need of his reconciling love, we place ourselves above the baby who came in the form of God’s love and therefore we put ourself beyond His reach.
We can enjoy a God-planned Christmas when we recognize that we are the Reason for the Season--why he came to us in the first place. Each of us must recognize that none of us are good enough and none of us are too bad for His great love to touch and transform. We can’t leave him as a helpless tiny baby in the manger who is incapable of meeting the needs of humanity. We often limit Him by our own expectaions. We think that He will do things differently in our lives. Sometimes we expect Him to work along a certain line and when he doesn’t we are puzzled. Our prayers our often formed and include our own answers as well. We say, “God, this is the way I think you should work out this problem. Here is the best solution I can come up with.
A God-planned Christmas is one in which we open our hearts to His great love and give him permission to transform us and change us from what we now are into what He wants us to be.
Let us pray: