Happy Advent Church,
As promised, here are this week’s Advent Readings:
Sun. Is. 40:1-5
Mon. Is. 52:7-10
Tue. Is. 40:9-11
Wed. Gen. 3:8-15
Thu. Gen. 15:1-6
Fri. Deut. 18:15-19
Sat. Ps. 89:1-4
The characters in your nativity tell wonderful stories. In the figures of Joseph and Mary we see people who were dedicated servants of God. They were willing to accept the roles for which God had chosen them. Servanthood is at the center of the nativity. Will it be at the center of your Christmas season?
The shepherds represent people who push past their fears in order to get to the manger to meet the Christ-child. Pushing past fear to get to the manger meant nothing and no one could ever keep them in fear over their future again. As the shepherds arrived on the scene they were transformed by the “Prince of Peace,” and they left the manger as overcomers. This Christmas what fears could you turn over to Jesus? How could you become an overcomer?
The other group represented in your nativity is the wisemen; They were people of faith, people who saw something in one country that led them to another. They were willing to be led by the miraculous. How can your faith deepen and grow this Christmas season?
What tale does the Baby Jesus tell in your nativity? The gifts brought to Him by the Wisemen pointed to His royalty and mission to die as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. The swaddling clothes in which He was wrapped were placed on His body during a time in which King Herod sought to kill Him. The clothes that swaddled Jesus’ body after the crucifixion were left behind in the empty tomb when Jesus rose from the dead. Just as Jesus escaped death when Joseph and Mary took Him to Egypt to escape from Herod who wanted Him dead, Jesus also escaped from the grip of death when He was raised to life after death by the power of God. Those clothes that swaddled the baby in the manger remind us that grave clothes couldn’t contain the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords because He conquered sin, hell, and death forever making the same kind of overcoming experience available to all who will put their trust in Him.
What about the manger itself! The manger itself is a reminder that Jesus wasn’t an ordinary baby. He didn’t come into the world in an ordinary way. Baby Jesus was a long way from home when He was born not only in a heavenly sense, but also in an earthly sense. Because His parents were away from their home they got by the best way they could. They laid their son in a dirty, feeding trough. Not a typical bed for a baby. But remember, this was no typical baby. Jesus is “The Lamb of God” born to take away the sins of the world. A Lamb, laid in a place where other animals would receive nourishment.
Jesus called Himself, “The Bread of Life.” Those who gain spiritual nourishment from Him will have everlasting life. Remember, when the shepherds were given instruction about where to find Jesus they were told about the manger. The manger was a sign of His true identity.
The manger would have been located in a smelly, messy environment. Animal excrement and the smells to accompany it became the birthing suite of the Messiah. Jesus was born in the midst of a mess. It is the reality of that moment and is our reality today. Sin is vile, dirty, and messy. Though He was God, Jesus willingly left the splendor of heaven to take on the mess of our sin. It wasn’t pretty. It still isn’t. But He did it out of the greatest love ever displayed. Laid in a filthy cattle stall, Jesus came to take on the filth of our sin.
From a bed of hay to a cross of wood, Jesus did it perfectly. He became the sacrifice for our sin. He conquered sin forever. We no longer have to be separated from a relationship with God because of sin. We no longer have to fear death because of Christ’s victory. Jesus’ victory is our victory. The manger reminds us that God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Do you have victory in your life this Christmas?
The Nativity of Christ says a mouthful. It calls us to servanthood, not just for a season but for a lifetime as are seen in the Joseph and Mary figures. It asks us how far we will go in taking on the role God has assigned for us to play. It calls us out of fear and into faith just as the shepherds and wisemen portray. Its centerpiece, the baby Jesus lying in a manger, calls us to conquer and to live life from the perspective that Jesus has already won our victory.