The following appeared in the Christmas edition of the local paper, The Franklin Sun. I was asked to share the Christmas message with the community this year. I pray you find it a blessing.
It seems that no matter where one picks up the story, the Christian faith can be found in various phases of movement as either God moves to call the people into a new place or the people respond to follow God. The story of the birth of Christ, more than any, represents this constant relocation of God and his people.
The Holy Spirit moves to bring the blessing of the Christ child to Mary. Angels moved to deliver the messages of the coming Christ to Joseph who moves with his young bride to Bethlehem. Jesus moves from heaven to earth to become incarnate and walk among us. The angels move to tell the shepherds what has happened in the manger. The shepherds move from their fields to visit the newborn savior of the world. At their confirming of the angels report, the shepherds moved to tell everyone nearby of what they had seen. Eventually, wise men from the east, would follow the star in their search to find Emmanuel. And God moved in the hearts of humanity to rekindle their passions for healing and peace at the fulfillment of this long expected promise. From the very beginning of Christ’s entrance into our world until his ascension after the resurrection, Jesus and his people have been on the move.
Christmas still holds a great mystery over me as I consider the entirety of what happened in order to bring this promise to bear in our broken world. As most of us gather this season, we will likely tune out the tragedies of conflict, hunger, and injustice around the world, while we give thanks for our blessings and celebrate all that Jesus means to us. It is a good and right thing to pause to celebrate in thanksgiving! Yet, how many of us have become overwhelmed by the evils of this world? We insulate ourselves in the beauty and joy of the story while forgetting the conflict deeply rooted in the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary moved with their young son to Egypt to find refuge because Herod moved to inflict infanticide upon a generation of Israel’s sons.
Israel awaited the arrival of their Messiah with the belief that he would deliver them from the oppression of their enemies and restore them to their idea of glory. Yet, God moves in an unimaginable direction by entering the world through lowly means in a common stable. I find God’s actions incredibly mysterious! Joyfully, our God does not settle to merely wrestle power from the fleshly oppressors of the time. Instead, through Christ, the Father moves to overthrow the very sources of evil that threaten not just a generation but all of creation. Through the incarnation and ministry of Jesus, our brokenness and its corresponding punishment have been bound and cast aside as we have received forgiveness and redemption. Whether we find ourselves burdened by the conflicts of a community, the troubles of our nation, or the death and destruction around the globe, we should find great hope in this season of Christmas because it reminds us that our Creator has moved to unseat these powers of evil so that his Kingdom of Glory will reign.
Christmas, unlike any other time, inspires the very best of people across our land. Christmas is the great story of how God always moves first to redeem his creation. Just as those shepherds followed the light of glory and the wise men later followed the star to visit the Christ child, the people of God should move as one where God leads us with hope, love, joy, and peace.