1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 "23 Now may God himself, the God of peace, make you pure, belonging only to him. May your whole self—spirit, soul, and body—be kept safe and without fault when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24 You can trust the One who calls you to do that for you."
Our story does not end with Jesus’ birth, for our world has grown from that day so long ago. As January 1 rolls around bringing in the New Year the joyful spirit seems to fade away. The reason for the season now becomes resolutions to be broken, promises to make it a better year and twelve more months to get it right with God.
But have we learned anything from the story told so long ago? Jesus is still here, He is still looking and knocking, He is still looking for room in our hearts.
The Nativity is a story of a Promise.
For hundreds of years God had been making promises to His People.
He had promised a Prince, a Shepherd, a Healer, a Conqueror, a Prophet, a Priest, a Lion, a Lamb.
He had promised Peace, He had promised Freedom, He had promised Love and Life without end.
Finally, one evening, in the blackness of midnight, the promise all came wrapped together as one magnificent Promise.
The promise was a baby, the promise was Emmanuel, the promise was God Himself.
Mary and Joseph beheld their child and they believed. The shepherds had seen Him, and they believed. The wise men had seen Him and they too, believed, and the light of the hope was kept safe in their hearts. The word of a new light in the world was passed from one person to another until the glow of a new faith and a new joy could be seen in the far corners of the earth- a light kept glowing bright by the love of God and the faith of all who knew of the birth of the Child that night long ago; a child who was the light of the world.
Today we come to the manger's side, offering our gifts; our time; our service, even our very lives. But the promise of the Nativity has never been the gifts we bring, even the gifts we give to God.
The promise of the Nativity is God's gift to us. The gift of HOPE AND JOY, PEACE AND LOVE, JUSTICE AND MERCY.
When the child grew up and became all that God intended him to be, He said: I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NOT WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.
This season we celebrate that singular night more than 2000 years ago when God’s light came to the earth with the birth of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Each of us carries the flame of faith that is God’s light in our hearts. Touch us this year Lord and help us to open our hearts so that Your light can illuminate our lives and the lives of those around us. Touch us, once more, Lord, and bring us Your wisdom, Your Spirit, Your love, and Your light.
The Nativity is the story of worship.
The scriptures say that the heavens sing of God’s glory, and the earth tells of the wonderful things He does. Jesus said that if God’s people are silent the rocks themselves will cry out and praise Him.
When the shepherds heard that the Promised one had come, they ran to Bethlehem and worshiped the Child.
When the wise men knew that He was born, distance could not keep them away. They came and brought Him precious gifts- gifts fit for a King. They bowed low and worshiped Him.
How can we do any less? With all the elaborate celebrating this time of year, how much do we truly worship Him?
The Nativity is a story of worship. And this season in the privacy of our hearts,
With the wise men, with the shepherds, and with all of creation, let us bow and worship Him. Let us worship Jesus.
At the heart of the nativity narratives in both Matthew and Luke, is a simple fact: amid the struggle of a people who had longed for 500 years for God to act in the world in new ways, God came to be with them in a way that totally identified himself with us, as human beings. Amid the most unlikely of circumstances, to the most unlikely of people, God became a human being to reconcile all peoples to himself (2 Cor 5:18-19).
I think that the true meaning of Christmas is about possibility in the midst of the impossible. It is not the kind of possibility that comes from a confidence in our own skill, knowledge, ability, or a positive mental attitude. It is possibility that comes solely from the fact that God is God, and that He is the kind of God who comes into our own human existence to reveal Himself and call us to Himself. It is a possibility that is so surprising at its birth that we are caught unaware, and so we are left with wonder at the simplicity of its expression in this infant child. It is a possibility that is easily symbolized by a helpless infant that has nothing of its own by which to survive; yet an infant that, because he is Immanuel, God with us, will forever change the world and all humanity. It is this same God who has promised to be with us, with His people, with the church and with us individually, as we live as His people in the world.
At the heart of the message of the Savior of the world is a single, glorious, wonderful, still largely untried concept. In its simplest terms the message is that we should seek to overcome the selfishness we all seem to be born with, that we should overcome human nature and think of others before self. We should think of God and serve Him and think of others and serve them.” (James L. Faust)
“Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world.” (Thomas S. Monson)
The world’s political climate may continue to be volatile and changing, but we have been promised that through Jesus Christ we can experience peace in our lives. The true spirit of Christmas is that spirit of peace -- the spirit of Christ. (John 14:27) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our grief. Everyone now can understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in every doctrine is grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction presented in the Saviors life on earth we see “God with us.”
Heaven and earth are no wider apart today than when shepherds listened to the angels’ song. To us in the common walks of life, Heaven may be very near, and angels will attend the steps of those who come and go at God’s commands.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men.”
Oh, that today the human family could recognize that song! The declaration then made; the note struck will swell to the close of time and resound to the ends of the earth. When the Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, that song will be re-echoed by the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters saying, “Alleluia for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Revelation 19:6
When our Lord comes will we recognize Him and have room to welcome Him, or will we be like the Jewish nation so many years ago and be left behind?
As we now celebrate this time of year let’s truly remember the reason for the season. On that silent night so long ago, Jesus came looking for room in our lives so He could come again many years later to take us home with Him. Will you make room in your life today and every day to follow?
Over the next couple days take time to read God's wonderful promise sent to us through the birth of His Son into this world. Read the Christmas story with fresh eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to show you something new you haven't seen before. Take time with your friends and families and share the good news of Jesus with them as well. And most of all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I will be back in the new year January 2022, many blessings to your family from ours.
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