Imagine if, on that first Christmas, the angel described what Christmas would become in the 21st century…
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Because of today, future generations will add two to three family parties, two staff parties, three to four church programs, one school performance, many days of shopping at crowded malls, daily deliveries of boxes, fifty greeting cards, and at least one night of wrapping gifts. Their children will go to practice upon practice to prepare for performances and they will watch them at school, at church and at civic events. They will sew costumes and rehearse lines. Their friends will host a dinner party or two to add to the festivities. And there will be lots of baking to do.
They will cut down trees and hang pretty bobbles on the branches. They will place giant, inflatables of a jolly bearded man in a red suit on their lawns. Nearby there will be a green, monsterish plastic creature people will call a “grinch.” And, much will be made of a deer with an illuminating nose.
People will sing songs about a “Silent Night” and a “Holy Night” and sing about peace while having no idea what true Peace is.
It will all be so much fun! People will borrow money to make it all happen. People will work as hard as they can to provide something called, “the perfect Christmas.”
Elves, reindeer, snowmen, a baby in some straw, boughs with red berries and fa la la la lah. Yes! That is the miraculous “Good News” we’ve come out here to tell you about tonight. Pretty exciting, don’t you think? People will even be rude to each other and God’s people will get angry at people who wish them “Happy Holidays.” Most won’t really care much if people know this Savior born today but it will be very important to them that people say, “Merry Christmas.” They will make memes and share them on something called “Facebook.”
Now hurry off, you shepherds. Get down there to Bethlehem and find that baby. If you don’t you’re going to be messing up nativity scene pictures for all eternity! We can’t even imagine Christmas plays without those little kids in bathrobes with towels over their heads! Go, go now.
I think the shepherds probably would have rolled over and said, “Nah, we’re all set. We’ll pass.”
Good news. Great joy. Emmanuel. God with us.
With you. With me. God: available, present, guiding, shaping, comforting, rescuing, rebuilding, renewing and defining. Hope. Purpose. Peace. Meaning.
Is that Jesus present in your life? With you right now?
Wise men still seek Him. Wiser men follow Him.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus
Scott Linscott is lead pastor at First Baptist Church of Westbrook, Maine.