Summary: A look at the holiness and simplicity of Christmas
…Thanks for those special songs. What a joy it is to gather on this Christmas Eve night. It’s a night in which I always find myself touched by songs like these and filled with the wonder of it all. One song that particularly struck me recently was “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
THOSE VERY WORDS CAPTURE THE SURPRISING NATURE OF THIS EVENT. The holiest gift of God slipped into the silence and simplicity of human history. As a holy night this gift comes announced from heaven; declared as God’s definitive invasion and deepest desire. The wonder of this gift is that we would expect it wrapped in the most obvious, ornate, and outlandish style possible; yet unlike most gifts we will receive, if wrapped at all, it’s wrapped in surprising simplicity. God fashions for the eternal, holy, spiritual realm to enter into the created realm that in His Son we could have life eternal again… and become who we were always meant to be…his children.
Perhaps you and I, in our human wisdom, would have utilized the great mastery of Hollywood. We could have designed our own Dream Team…Spielberg could direct, Disney could produce, CNN could cover, Barbara Walters could do interviews, we could meet with world leaders, throw in a book signing tour…and of course release a Christmas Album. Yet God ordained the ordinary, He set apart the simple, turned a silent night into a holy night; and the earth has never contained its glory;…never ceased to be in wonder. More words have been written about him than any other.
God’s holiest gift wrapped in ordinary people, in ordinary places with ordinary problems.
When God broke through heaven’s history, he simply gathered one nation together, began to foretell of his coming redemption through a few unpopular prophets, and finally interrupted the lives of a young Jewish girl, her carpenter boyfriend, an a few simple shepherds. (…and of course his P.R. man, John the Baptist whose style showed he’d never read “How to Win Friends and Influence People”)
You and I would have only felt secure with “the best” but God didn’t need the so called “best”, only ordinary people willing to offer themselves.
…ordinary people in an ORDINARY PLACE
Certainly a holy place for the city of Bethlehem was the city of King David…and fortold of in prophecies given long before. But it was still in our perspective simply a small town…and no 5 star Hilton…no palace…no mansion…just a stable on the outskirts of town.
Maybe like the wise men you’ve followed a star and found a stable; you’ve looked up at the majesty of God’s calling and found yourself in the midst of the mundane. God may be closer than you think.
…and in all of this there were of course the ORDINARY PROBLEMS
It was TAX TIME, and if that weren’t enough, the census required each to return to their home town. This meant Joseph and Mary would have to travel about 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Which may sound like a simple L.A. commute, but by foot or donkey halfway to San Diego by donkey DURING THE LAST MONTH OF PREGNANCY. You can imagine Mary thinking, God could this really be you?
No tax breaks
No travel plans provided for us
Let alone, no place to stay
…and of course along with the inconvenience, there’s a little insecurity. After all God left Mary to tell Joseph the news first. You can imagine Joseph feeling a little insecure. “It wasn’t me” and Mary responding “Hey it wasn’t me either.” God at work in the ordinary problems of inconvenience and insecurity.
Why does this holiest gift come in the midst of the ordinary? BECAUSE THIS GREAT DIVINE INVASION WASN’T TO FULFILL THE CRY OF THE SPECTATOR FOR THE SPECTACULAR, BUT TO FULFILL THE CRY OF OUR OWN SUFFERING AND SIN FOR A SAVIOR. The real cry deep with our souls in the very fabric of our existence, is that of where is God in our suffering and sin?
ONLY IN THE WONDER OF THIS SILENT BUT HOLY NIGHT WE CELEBRATE COULD GOD SETTLE THAT DILEMMA OF OUR SOULS:
1. REACH US…IN OUR PLACE OF SUFFERING,
illus “Mary Groden”
As one line from the popular Christmas song declares “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
2. RELEASE US;
“If our greatest need was information…. God would have sent education.
But our greatest need was forgiveness…so He sent a SAVIOR.
Hemingway in “Capital of the World” tells story of father estranged from his son Paco,
Finally, Father searches for son and comes to Madrid, Spain, where he takes out ad in paper saying “Paco, meet me tomorrow at 12 O’clock in front of the gout Building. “All is forgiven.”