Christmas Eve Message (2012)

It’s Christmas Eve!

Another day until Christmas, a day of exuberant celebration for Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior who came to bring the good news that God loves all and means to redeem the world to all who would and will receive it.

The birth of our Lord means so much. It means life, hope, peace, joy, and love. Jesus brought a new way of life, a way to all that hope and wait for, a way to the love and joy we all seek. Jesus is the center of history, because before his coming life was impossible, after his coming everything is possible. Before Jesus was desolation after Jesus is delight.

Frederick Buechner said, “It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.”

An encounter with Jesus will leave you changed. No one who has come to him has left untouched. From Peter, Paul, St. Francis, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Liseux, Mother Theresa, Thomas Merton, and Dietrich Bhonoffer lives have been touched by the life of Jesus. My own life has been touched and is being transformed by Jesus.

Here’s the Christmas Story from N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament:

Today a savior has been born for you—the Messiah, the Lord!—in David’s town. This will be the sign for you: you’ll find the baby wrapped up, and lying in a feeding-trough.” Suddenly, with the angel, there was a crowd of the heavenly armies. They were praising God, saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest,

And peace upon earth among those in his favor.”

So when the angels had gone away again into heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Well then; let’s go to Bethlehem and see what it’s all about, all this that the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the feeding-trough. When they saw it, they told them what had been said to them about this child. And all the people who heard it were amazed at the things the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured all these things and mused over them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.

We celebrate the coming of our Savior born to bring both God glory and peace upon the earth. The amazing and wondrous thing is that both of those things are the very same thing. Jesus brings glory to God by and through reconciling us to God we who were estranged from Him.

Notice the shepherds didn’t casually stroll or crawl to see the newborn King of the universe, but hurried. I can picture them running fast and furiously, a lot like the father in the well-known parable of the prodigal. Yet, this time the prodigals are running to God in the flesh. Those lost and forsaken have caught a glimpse and they want more of it. They have sensed the in breaking of God’s rule. When the shepherds shared the news people were amazed, probably some didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe it. Just like today when we share what God has done for us in our lives some people have a hard time believing it. Believing that God can be as good as we make Him out to be. The Good news is He is even better than that. God is better than any of our lives or stories make him out to be.

The Shepherds glorified and praised God simply because “all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.”

It was true!

The Messiah has come into the world and nothing will ever be the same again!

Just as on that day long ago, today Jesus comes into our lives and nothing is the same again!

Yet, Jesus can come all he wants and he will, if we are not open and receptive to his coming than it will not matter. It will not matter to our lives. It will be as if he hasn’t come, as if he was never born, never lived as he did, and never died as he did, and never rose as he did.

That is sad. For some Jesus is a myth, a happy little story we tell ourselves to get through the night. I pity them and hope that soon their eyes will be opened and they will see that the gospel is the good news that Jesus came for them, for everyone, so that all of us can experience God and His Kingdom.

Jesus was born, lived, died and rose. Jesus comes and bids us to come and see how good he is. That the good news is even better than any of us could ever imagine or hope.

Jesus is at the door knocking.

Will you let him in?

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. It’s nice to be rich and powerful, but it’s more powerful to give back, to use your money and power to help the poor and oppressed. You should never miss an opportunity to make others happy. You should never miss an opportunity to give a helping to your hurting brothers and sisters. As Christians, we should answer the call and take up the cause of the poor and oppressed. God doesn’t want pew warmers, what he wants are Kingdom livers, men and women who no longer just say, “I’m a Christian”, but men and women who live their Christianity. If your Christianity doesn’t change you and prompt you to make changes and live a healthier, saner, happier, and kinder life than it is more worthless than a wad of chewed up piece of gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe. No longer can we who are serious about following Jesus pray on Sunday morning ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ then on Monday morning have a cold, hard heart for the poor and oppressed.

On this day, on Christmas Eve, the message I have to share is that Jesus wants to save you; He doesn’t as much want to make you a Christian as a disciple and have a personal relationship with you. He wants to make a difference in and through your life. He died for you and asks that you live for and with him for the glory of God. May this holiday season bring you peace, hope, joy, love, miracles, grace and many more things than you have ever imagined possible. I pray that you accept Jesus into your heart and lives. And in the words of Charles Dickens, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Merry Christmas and God bless you!

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