Merry Christmas 2010

Hey everyone, I hope your day is going well so far!  I love enjoying this time with my family and friends.  To all my readers, have a blessed Christmas and a very HAPPY New Year!

I’ve included for your reading the text of what I shared last night to my church family (modified a bit for the context here).  Enjoy!

We all know about Christmas. We all know that it’s commercial thing with a frenzy of gift buying and gift wanting, and “stuff” being exchanged. We all know that it’s a nostalgia thing, with the Christmas plays, the nativity scene, Santa Claus, elves, reindeer, tinsel, decorations, lights and carols, and movies we’ve seen every year. We know that Christmas is a food thing, the chocolates, the turkeys, the stuffing, the oranges, the baked goodies. Oh, the baked goodies.

There are many things we know Christmas for and many things we’ve become familiar with. Familiar. There’s danger in that. The danger of Christmas, the season, the event, is that we get so familiar we lose the wonder of what Christmas really represents. The wonder of the INCARNATION. It’s really not a word you hear too much. But it is a word that captures the wonder of what happened. God coming in flesh on this planet. Tonight, for just a few minutes, I hope to remind you of this wonder. To have you pause in awe at the majesty and significance of what can be robbed by the familiar.

Do you remember the last time you were filled with wonder – marveling at something you witnessed or experienced that captured your attention? What caused this wonder? More likely, it was something out of the ordinary, something that broke through the usual, something that made some sort of emotional connection with you.

The incarnation should be like that for us. The incarnation must be like that for us. Something out of the ordinary, something that broke through the usual, something that makes an emotional connection with where we are RIGHT NOW in our everyday lives.

Think of the vastness of our universe made up of thousands of galaxies, each containing stars too numerous to count. In a universe that’s limits have never been observed even by the most powerful scientific instruments today. In the midst of this universe, there is a galaxy that has been named the Milky Way, our galaxy. In this galaxy is a star, our sun, a yellow star and surrounding this star is our solar system.

A space ship probe named Voyager I, was launched on September 5, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually beyond. As of December 13 of this year, this spacecraft, travelling currently at a speed of nearly one million miles per day, has still not made interstellar space but is at a distance of 17.3 billion km from the Sun. Radio signals from Voyager I, traveling at the speed of light, take more than 16 hours to make it to earth. Voyager I is not heading towards any particular star but if it was travelling towards the closest star to our galaxy, it would take it 73,600 light years at its current speed. That’s the closest star to our galaxy, out of the thousands of stars in our galaxy, out of the trillions of stars in our universe.

And on a single planet in this solar system. Unique, in it’s position and ability to support life. Divinely designed. The creator of this universe carried out his plan for a visit that would transform our history.

A visit not announced by an earthquake or a world shattering sound. A visit not landing in the halls of worldly power. A visit in the form of a baby. In a manger, in a stable, to a young newly married couple. Announced to a few shepherds, the outcasts of society. This should invoke some sort of curiosity in the casual observer, some sort of wonder at how an all powerful God, would be incarnate in such a humble way.

A wonder that invokes HOPE. Hope that there really is a God who understands and knows our poor and desperate circumstances at times. A hope, that there really is a God who makes it possible for us to KNOW Him, even though in the fullness of his glory, majesty and power He is unknowable.

A wonder that invokes BELONGING. The reality that in the spoken announcement to the shepherds, God speaks the good news to every single one of us. He came for me. He came for you. He wants ALL of us to belong to HIS kingdom. A kingdom, not bought by privilege, or power, or ability. A kingdom bought by HIS. OWN, WORK. Something, as God, He didn’t have to do. But something He did, compelled by His love for you and for me.

A wonder that produces DREAMS. Dreams in what God wants to do through YOU! What is possible because Jesus makes it possible? Think of what it was like for the shepherds when they realized in the midst of their wonder, that God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to them. That they were SIGNIFICANT enough to entrust this GOOD NEWS to? They began to dream of what it would be like when everyone knew the Saviour had come and the Bible records that they shared the good news with everyone they saw.

Why is recapturing the wonder of the Incarnation so important? Because it keeps our attention on the one who matters, it cultivates gratitude for His blessing, and it produces a life of generosity in response to the one who was so generous to us.

I want to close with a few words from a letter that a man named Detriech Bonhoeffer wrote to his fiancé in December 1943. He penned it while in prison in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer had lost good friends to the war, he was separated from those he loved, evil was all around him, yet these were the words he wrote:

“I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious..The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.”

And that my friends is the most wondrous things of all. Not only did the God of the Universe know he could make a home on earth. But He did it, so He could make a home in YOU.

Paul writes,

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him…  Ephesians 3: 14:17 (NLT)

As you think of the incarnation today, be filled. With wonder.

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