Life is an absolute roller coaster. I think of this year. 2013 is a year that I am more than willing to say good riddance to.And yet….I had some wonderful, wonderful, times in fact some of my life’s most lasting memories may come from this year.
I had my last Wyldlife club at Swift Creek perhaps the most emotional filled event of my life.
I got to see Mumford and Sons on the front row!
I got to meet Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad and finally met Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band.
I traveled to D.C. to see my best friends and get a free Dave Matthews Band concert out of it.
And yet with all of this, this year was just stressful, burdensome. It moved so slow and yet flew so fast.But perhaps this is just life.
There’s going to Disney World and there’s attending funerals.
There’s finding out your friends are getting married, and there’s finding out your friend has cancer.
And most of us have had the opportunity to experience these things. I could ask everyone reading this blog to comment if they’ve been to Disney and it wouldn’t do a whole lot. We could ask “Oh yeah, what park? What ride?
“Or we could ask the other question to comment if someone you love has struggled with Cancer.See that would be a different thing. A different feeling. It’s not just saying “Hey, you’ve been to Disney too!?” That’s so fun! No, there’s a connection with these people.
There is something that unites us in our suffering.
We can look at each other and say “Hey, I understand. I know what it’s like.”
I once heard that the most powerful thing you can tell a person is not some long sermon, it’s not some well crafted argument or long discussion. It’s merely two words.”Me too.”
This. is the story of Christmas. Whenever we think of Christmas we drive by this cute little baby Jesus in a manger there’s a spotlight shining on him. Depending on their tradition either Jesus in in the manger or he isn’t quite yet. Sometimes if the person can afford it there’s cute little creatures sitting around the manger. But the story of the birth of Jesus is not a cute story. It’s not some happy fairy tale. It’s not a happy go lucky experience.It is a real and true difficult, stressful, and raw story of how God came in to a real, and true, difficult, stressful, and raw world.You see we know the world isn’t right. We know there’s something wrong.
Earthquakes wipe out thousands of people.
People are murdered.
We suffer hatred.
We get made fun of.
Our parents get divorced.
Friends kill themselves.
This is NOT the way that God created the world. God made a good world.
And he said it was ours to create more. He asked us to take care of it and we RUINED it.
We did all of these awful things, we brought so much darkness in to the world. We made it a world of SIN.God had EVERY reason to say I’m done with you. He had every reason to say HOW DARE YOU do this to my good creation. He had EVERY reason to say You are on your own.
What is so incredible about the nativity is that that dark world we created. The one We ruined. we brought killing and sickness and stealing and hatred into. God’s good world that we messed up. The world God could have turned his back on and said I am done with you.
The nativity is the story of God entering THAT world.The conditions of this were not happy and easy. Mary didn’t have a nice hospital bed to come in to. Every comfortable place was filled. Instead she had to give birth likely on the ground where animals didn’t exactly make things clean. This pregnant woman had to travel miles and miles and the back of a mule (baby in tote). Not one part of this story said “you know what it was just so easy and Jesus was born without any stress…I mean it’s God so YAYYYY.” But you see there was reason to endure those hardships. There was reason for this baby to be born. And that reason was each and every one of you.
Because this baby’s first breath was given so that one day…
He could give his last.
This is the story of Christmas.Our lives are hard. WE go through things we often feel like nobody understands. WE even feel like God doesn’t understand.God you don’t know what it’s like to go through this. You’re God how could you know what it’s like to suffer. To lose your friends. To be abused. To be made fun of. To be the outcast. You don’t know what it’s like to be hated. We point our angry finger at God and say You don’t know what it’s like to suffer.The Story of Christmas is of God coming to Earth and living in our world. The Story of Christ’s life is GOD putting on flesh and blood. Suffering as we suffered. Being hated as we have been hated. Being made fun of as we have been made fun of. Being outcast as we have been outcast.
The story of Christmas.
Is Jesus coming and living a life so that when we suffer he can say:
Now when Joseph, Mary’s partner, found out that Mary was pregnant and he knew the child wasn’t his, he made plans to divorce her. But before Mary gave birth to Jesus an angel appeared to Joseph. And this is what he said:
20 “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.”
Now this word Immanuel when spoken was and maybe is the most profound word to ever be spoken. Because this word means “God With Us.” It means that UNLIKE all the stories told before God was NOT somewhere else. Somewhere in the sky, somewhere in the clouds! NO! This meant something for more important.
“God with us.”
Christmas is about Immanuel. Christmas is about having a God who understands. A God who can say “Me Too.” About a God who has rescued us.
Jesus said “In this world you will have troubles. But DO NOT FEAR. I have overcome the world.”
Christmas is about Love coming down and living a life that would save all of us. A life that would overcome the darkness of this world.
And this is the greatest present ever given. And it has been offered to all of you. No matter how broken you think your life is. How messed up you think you are. God has offered his son for you.
The most famous verse and words from this whole book are the words used in John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he *gave* his one and only Son. That whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
He gave. Will you accept what has been given?
Maybe you don’t have it all figured out or you need to know more or you have your questions. I ask you to pull aside a leader. Let them know what you are struggling with. I can guarantee they have asked those questions. Some of them have maybe even struggled with the exact same things you are struggling with. But they have decided to take that gift. And it has changed their entire world.
I want to end by reading some lyrics to a song. And it’s not technically a Christmas song but in my opinion it is so boom.
If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear Your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son
Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Lord I’m forever Yours
I hope you can find peace in that.
I hope you can find comfort in that.
Immanuel, God is with us.
I hope you can find Christmas in that.