Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't Miss Christmas

In Luke 2:6-7 we read these history-altering words: “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” In just a few sentence Luke encapsulates ‘the hopes and fears of all the years’. Messiah has come! And we read with joy of the angels appearing to the shepherds, announcing the birth of the King. We wonder at what must have gone through Mary and Joseph’s mind through that first night. What an amazing experience, to be there for that first Christmas!
But have you ever thought about those who missed that first Christmas? It’s hard to imagine but there were many who simply missed it. And the reason I think it’s important to consider these who missed Christmas is because if we don’t guard our hearts, we too can miss it. Not that we miss December 25th, but that we miss the meaning of the season, the reason why we celebrate. I don’t want to miss this season of joy and worship! So who are those who did?
I think first of the religious leaders of the day. Everything in the scriptures they had given their lives to study pointed to the coming of Jesus. But when he came there were no priests to worship Him, no announcements in the temple. The reason is that the religious leaders had constructed in their minds an idea of who Messiah should be. They thought he was coming to institute a physical kingdom, but the kingdom Jesus came to usher in was a spiritual kingdom. And since Jesus didn’t meet their expectations, since He didn’t arrive with any fanfare or ceremony but was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger, they missed it. Have we constructed a false image of Jesus in our minds? Do we believe He exists for us, or that we exist for Him? Do we worship who He is, or do we worship what we want Him to be?
I think of Roman Empire. There was no delegation from Caesar to herald the birth of the King of Kings, no recognition from the Empire. Why? Because what of any importance could possibly happen in Bethlehem? It was a backwater place in a backwater part of the empire. And since they didn’t think it was important, they missed it. Do we miss Christmas because we fail to see the importance of who Jesus is and why He has come? I know we pay a good deal of lip service to Him this time of year, but do we really acknowledge who He is and what He’s done?
I think finally of the people in Bethlehem. They were going on about their lives, just trying to get by. They weren’t doing anything overtly sinful but scripture tells us that only the shepherds came to worship the new King. No locals were there. Nobody from the inn. What were they all doing? Why did they miss it? I think the answer is most likely that they were simply too busy with their lives. The idea of a Messiah was nice but they just really didn’t have time for it. They had so much else going on in their lives they didn’t realize that Immanuel had come. Are we so busy that we don’t have time for Jesus? I know we like the idea of salvation, and we’re certainly not opposed to coming to church. But do we make time for Jesus? Is He the focus of our lives, or simply a part of our lives? This Christmas let’s make certain that we don’t miss it. Let’s make certain that Jesus is our focus, our joy and our purpose. 

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