The Real Story of Christmas
One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas. I like the lights, trees, and especially the time that we can get away and spend with our families and old friends. And honestly I like the presents, both getting and giving. I understand that there is a downside too, and I have been overwhelmed at times by the tension and rush.
But the thing I love the most about Christmas is the part that seems to increasingly go missing. I’m not talking about the story of Mary and Joseph or the manger or the Angels. I am not talking about families being together. What I really miss the most about Christmas is Easter.
Now please understand that I am not one of THOSE people who only preach on the birth of Christ in July and the resurrection in December and the two will never touch. And I’m not one of of THOSE preachers who will extol the facts that the Baby could not have been born in December.
But to me the greatest part of the Christmas story did not happen in that dreadful manger when the baby was born to be both Son of Man and Son of God. I believe that the birth of every healthy child to a loving family is a time of joy and hope. Everything else is suspended for a time as hearts are overwhelmed by love for that beautiful face, those ten little fingers and ten little toes, and dreams of what can be. From the hearts of believers come both praise and prayers. Love becomes flesh. But I don’t believe that the true meaning of the story happened at Bethlehem.
I don’t believe that the true story of Christmas happened on the awful hill named Golgotha. The death of anyone is a source of sadness and confusion. It doesn’t matter if their funeral is attended by one or one thousand, the loss is very real and very tragic. Death is our enemy. It is ugly, unrelenting, cold, and a destroyer of dreams. Even for those who believe life will emerge triumphant, grief and tears overwhelm every death. I don’t believe that the true meaning of the story happened at Golgotha.
The real meaning of the Christmas story is found at the empty tomb. Only resurrection brings light to our darkness and our world. It is Easter’s empty tomb that gives meaning to Christmas. That’s why we can rejoice. A child is born in Bethlehem who will sacrifice His life and bring hope in His resurrection. God came to a sinful and suffering world, took all its evils upon himself, and triumphed. In His triumph over sin and death, you and I find our hope.
Christmas reminds us that Jesus is imperative to the purposes of God in the world. No one could have replaced Him. In the words of the Apostle Paul, Jesus showed us things about God's heart, character, and activity we had never quite been clear about before. "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God,"(Colossians 1:15).
Who would have guessed that God would make beautiful things out of lepers, or prostitutes, or shady businessmen. Jesus is the one who knows the Father best. He understands everything about Him. He bears true witness to Him in everything.
That’s why I believe that the very heart of the Christmas Story is our celebration of Jesus, the one who has made God known to us. The Almighty God who was, is, and always will be has come in human form. By stepping into our frailty, He has allowed us to enjoy a relationship with the Father and Holy Spirit.
At Christmas we rejoice that God has come to live in community with us. Jesus is indispensable. He did what no other person has done. He gave what no other person could offer. And what He revealed lets us know that each of us are indispensable to God as well.
Christmas proclaims that God cares so deeply for us that He made the first move. When He came, He offered God to both genders, to all races, and to people of every social and economic class. Nobody is worthless or expendable. Not in God’s eyes.
This means that you are essential as well. Christ came to tell you that you are valuable and deeply loved by the God who sees you as priceless. The love He has for you cannot be given to anyone else, and the purpose He has for you cannot be filled by anyone else.
This morning we remember that the Christmas Story is not about babies, family togetherness, and tender feelings. It is not about crowded airports, new iPads, and overeating. It is about the rescue mission of God come among us. Love for wayward sons and daughters that cannot be conquered. The once-for-all sacrifice for our sin, and new and eternal life. He has truly made beautiful things out of us and He longs to make beautiful things out of others as well.
*Taken from "The Fax of Life" by Rubel Shelly